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Cabin-con 2021 Report

Moose Meeple
Canada
Victoria
BC
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Microbadge: Copper ReviewerMicrobadge: Food Chain Magnate fanMicrobadge: Two worlds, unaware of each other, vie for the same mana. One world thrives while the other one suffers.
In November 2021 my gaming group (Bear, Otter, and Bigfoot) and I rented a cabin and spent a weekend playing board games all day and night. Here’s how it went, and at the end I’ll let you know what I loved and what I would change for next time.

Prelude


A little background about our group; we meet every Wednesday around 6:30PM at one of our homes (the person hosting rotates evenly) and play games until around 9PM or 10PM. The four of us are each avid gamers, so our lists of games that we want to play grows faster than we can play them.

On some level I have always looked at the big conventions with envy; booking off three whole days to just play board games sounds like a dream. We have gone to a couple local conventions to meet others and play new games, but we have found that we always gravitate towards just playing with each other. We have known each other for almost 7 years now, we all love a lot of the same games, and we know that we can trust each other to be appropriately invested in the game. We avoid the uncomfortable situation of having a player who does not respect the hobby. For instance, at one of the local conventions a fifth player asked to join our table, and then he was on his phone through the whole rules explanation and had to be told it was his turn every time. Each time his turn came up he’d ask ‘alright, what happened?’ and ‘How do I play? Can I do this?’, making it obvious he did not listen to the rules, or even bother to engage with us at the table.

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We talked as a group about going to a large convention, but eventually decided that there wasn’t much point in paying the entrance fee, renting a hotel room, and paying for travel only to play games with each other the whole time. We figured we would prefer to rent a cabin locally instead. Thus the idea of Cabin-Con was born.

Leading up to Cabin-Con we created a Google Sheet to curate our game selections for the weekend. We each listed the top three games we wanted to play over the weekend. Bigfoot had received his all-in Kickstarter pledges of Anachrony and Oath during Covid and was eager to have those hit the table. I purchased a ‘used’ copy of Clank Legacy from someone locally (they had bought the game, took the shrink off and punched the tokens, but their game group never got around to playing it), so I wanted to add that to the experience. Bear was particularly eager to play Eclipse, as we had played it a couple weeks ago and he wanted another chance to become the supreme leader. We all included many other lighter games that we owned and each had a chance to mark which ones we wanted to veto, or lift up as a priority.

The master play list became:

Clank Legacy
Food Chain Magnate
My City
A Feast for Odin
Oath
Anachrony
Eclipse

Thursday

Originally check-in was listed for 5pm, but the cabin owner allowed us to check in early, around 2:00pm. We arrived, unpacked the coolers of food and drink, and assembled the game library.

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By 3pm we were unpacked and ready to begin. We started the weekend with a round of Arboretum by Dan Cassar, which is always a hit. We learned and played Lost Cities: Rivals by Reiner Knizia, and we all really enjoyed it! It was interesting how our first few auctions sold 2 or 3 cards for 6 dollars, while subsequent auctions were giving away 8 cards for 4 dollars! I look forward to breaking this out again to see how the auctions change on repeat plays and with experienced players.

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Cartographers by Jordy Adan came up next, which was my very first time playing in person. I really love Cartographers, to the point where I’m likely going to buy my own copy so I can play with my family when I visit them for the holidays.

With three 30 minute games under our belt we unboxed A Feast for Odin and learned the rules (Our group usually learns new games by putting it on the table and I read over the rulebook, speaking out loud the important parts with each of us clarifying what we find ambiguous. It’s a system that works well for us). With A Feast for Odin set up and learned, we paused for dinner, provided by Bear (who pre-made all the dinners and froze them, so only a re-heat was necessary).

I had only played A Feast For Odin by Uwe Rosenberg once in 2017. I focused on breeding sheep and shearing them to cover the negative point spaces on my board, but found it quite difficult to keep up with the rest of the group. In addition, none of the occupations I pulled were particularly helpful until the end of the game, making my resource engine stall early. The final scores were 58 (me) 64 (Otter and Bigfoot) and a massive 104 point victory for Bear.

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I made a note to myself to spend some more time with A Feast for Odin in the future, as it’s quite the intriguing puzzle! It also helps that I really enjoy a lot of Uwe Rosenberg’s games, although my favourite remains Agricola.

Originally we planned to have a fire each night, as the cabin had an outdoor firepit. Unfortunately, it rained heavily all weekend. We consoled ourselves with a game of Citadels by Bruno Faidutti, which felt unnecessarily back-stabby in my opinion. That said that, it was the only game I won on Thursday, so I’m sure that says something about me.

Friday

Friday morning began slowly with a cup of coffee and a walk on the beach while I waited for the rest of the group to get out of bed (one of the joys of having a child under one year old is that I can’t sleep in past 7:30am anymore). By 10:30am a breakfast of bacon and eggs had been consumed by all and we began the first full day by breaking out Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated by Andy Clautice and Paul Dennen.

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We had played the original Clank! only a handful of times before we decided that it ultimately wasn’t for us. The tension of delving deep into the dungeon and trying to get out in time wasn’t terribly satisfying for us, as none of us were willing to be the person who grabs the cheapest, easiest treasure and gets out quickly. We also found that we prefer other deck builders like Hardback by Tim Fowers and Jeff Back, and Super Motherload by Gavan Brown and Matt Tolman. Nevertheless we were compelled to buy the game for the Legacy experience alone.

We played 4 games back to back where it became clear that my goal wasn’t to win each game, but to hit as many story encounters as possible. Clank! Legacy satisfied my desire for discovery with every story that got read and every sticker that got placed on the board (which was a lot). I had somewhat hoped to playthrough the entire box during the weekend, but I bowed to the will of the group and packed it away after four rounds. I’ll be pushing them to play it again during our Wednesday night game sessions until we finish the entire campaign.

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The rain had cleared up by this point so we chopped some wood, made a fire, and ate dinner outside. After dinner we just chatted while sipping whiskey. We’ve known each other for so long, but so rarely do we ever just sit around to talk. When we gather, we know that each other person is just as eager to play a board game so it becomes our default activity very quickly.

At 7:30PM we cracked open the Anachrony Infinity Box. The game was still in shrink wrap so we got to work on punching, sorting, and learning the rules for this massive game. Around 10:30PM as we took our first turns I saw the same fear in their eyes that would take the heart of me. A low-level despair had set in the group around the second half of the rule teach; 2+ hours is a long time to prepare to play a board game. Thankfully the first few rounds of Anachrony flow quickly and we all caught a second wind and carried through to the end, getting to bed closer to 2am.

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I really enjoyed the theme and production of Anachrony. I recognize that having the thick, heavy mechs to hold your workers is entirely unnecessary, but now that I played with these toys, I’d have a hard time playing without them. They serve very little function other than to turn this 2D board game into a 3D spectacle, but I found joy in that spectacle. If there was one word to describe Anachrony, it would be “cool”.

Now that I know how to play Anachrony, I looked over some of the expansions (side note, expansion rule books are SO MUCH EASIER to read when you already know how to play the base game) and am very excited to return to this world soon to explore the modules and expansions included in the Infinity Box. From what I hear, the Fractures of Time expansion is more or less a requirement going forward.

Saturday

The plan for Saturday was to play two or three games of Oath, then My City and perhaps Brass in the evening. Inspired by Friday night’s pain of having to un-shrink wrap and punch the pieces before playing, Bear, Bigfoot, and Otter all got to work preparing Oath and My City while I made pancakes.

Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile is not the first game designed by Cole Wehrle that we’ve played. Bear is a huge fan of Root, and Bigfoot really enjoys Pax Pamir. I found it incredibly difficult to conceptualize the mechanics of Oath, even using the ‘first turn guide’. The rules questions came fast and furiously, which made me very thankful for The Law of Oath, as it's really easy to find most of the answers. We plodded through Oath with Bear as the Chancellor who took the Cursed Cauldron early and found a card that let him ignore all skulls on his attacks. From then on fighting him became an exercise in futility as we’d clash against him, push him out of a zone, and then he’d throw himself against us, the skulls he rolled on the attack die not affecting his army, and his cauldron instantly regenerating his forces. He was a force that couldn’t be reckoned with.

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If Anachrony has a word to describe my experience (Cool), then the word I would use to describe Oath is ‘frustrating’. During the game I felt powerless. I had all my relics taken from me and my army slaughtered. I had no resources and felt like I was an ant fighting against a God. It was not a fun experience for me, and it took nearly a full 5 hours to play. Most of that play time I attribute to players taking agonizingly long turns, but I do not feel compelled to return to this experience. I really appreciate what Cole Wehrle was trying to achieve with the living game aspect, and it’s entirely likely that I got some rules wrong, but direct conflict games generally aren’t my bag already, and even if I was on the winning side of this war, I don’t want anyone at my table to feel like they’ve just spent 5 hours at a game and had all their progress ripped away from them.

I may return to Oath, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up in the ‘for sale’ pile before I do.

After Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile my brain felt swollen. To decompress, we opened My City by Reiner Knizia. Little did we know, this would be voted as game of the con! My City is a polyomino tile laying legacy game. Played over 24 episodes, broken into 12 chapters My City eases players into the game by starting with an incredibly basic game, and slowly adds more pieces and mechanics over time. After each game the board is cleared of all pieces, the winners get to fill in some circles marking their achievement, and some stickers are placed on the board, with more helpful stickers being distributed to those with the worst score.

We played the first two chapters in one sitting (6 episodes) before packing it away. To mill the remaining time to dinner, we played The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine by Thomas Sing. The Crew is a cooperative trick taking game that like My City, eases players into the complexity over the course of several games. The Crew has a logbook of 50 mission it tasks players to complete, beginning with just getting a single card to a specific player. As we completed missions and moved through the story things began to get more complicated, ensuring players won tricks containing specific cards in specific order, and even one game dictating that one player could not win any tricks at all.

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After dinner we were compelled to return to The Crew, and ended up playing 21 games when all was said and done (only 12 successes though). The Crew is a dead simple game and one that I will introduce to my family as I know they’ll love it.

Once we exhausted ourselves on The Crew, we switched to an older favourite, Vikings by Michael Kiesling. We followed that up with the fascinating bidding game Q. E. by Gavin Birnbaum where players can bid anything to win, but the player who spends the most money is eliminated. In this particular game, the first bid began at $150, and bids quickly swelled up to $7,000 and beyond.

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At this point Bear called it a night. The rest of us played another crowd pleaser, Azul, also by Michael Kiesling. This one ended with a sour taste in my mouth as on the last round Bigfoot drafted the final tile I needed to complete a colour and row. He couldn’t even use that tile, it went directly into his negative points pile! The betrayal! The audacity! In the end it wouldn’t have even mattered, his score eclipsed mine by nearly 20.

Finally for the day was Project L by Michal Mikeš, Jan Soukal and Adam Spanel. You can read more about my thoughts of Project L here, as my opinion still hasn’t changed. It’s a satisfying engine building puzzle that charms most people who get their hands on the fun little pieces.

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Sunday

Sunday morning was full of wind and rain. Another breakfast of eggs and sausage while cleaning the cabin. With coffee brewed, bellies full and the cabin clean, we had 2 hours to spare before check-out. We played another 6 episodes of My City while discussing what highs and lows we experienced over the weekend.

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Conclusion

This was our first time participating in an extended gaming marathon. The most we had done in the past was ‘game days’, gathering at someone’s home in the mid morning and staying into the evening. I really enjoyed gathering together at a cabin, as that level of separation left us each dedicated to the weekend. We weren’t thinking about the chores around the house that we weren’t getting done, or any major interruptions, nor did anyone have to drive to go home, leaving each person to drink as much or as little as they wanted with no repercussions.

I really love food, which shows in that I wasn’t willing to skip breakfasts, or even skimp on them. I enjoyed having a full breakfast each morning. Bear and I are both ex-cooks and were more than happy to prepare all the food while Otter and Bigfoot did the vast majority of the dishes. I don’t know how much they valued the home cooked meal, or if we could have just ordered pizza every night, but the food brought me joy. There was also no end to snacks; charcuterie, chips, candy, chocolates, muffins, you name it. We feasted like kings.

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While the temptation for me was to use Cabin-Con to play as much of a legacy game as possible, or dedicate several hours to experiencing grandiose games, I concede that the most fun experiences were the parts where we played multiple games (most of which we already knew how to play) in quick succession.

Next time, I would demand that all games coming to Cabin-Con at the VERY LEAST need to be unshrinkwrapped and punched. I would probably even prioritize learning how to play the games ahead of time, even if only to ease the mental load of learning so many games in such a short amount of time.

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This is not gonna happen next year


I recognize that I’m particularly blessed to have a game group that’s comfortable enough to dedicate an entire weekend to go to a cabin and play board games, and that we all have partners who respect our hobbies to let us disappear for days (this is especially true for the two of us that have children who are under a year old).

I look forward to doing Cabin-Con again, and I appreciate that it reminded me that sometimes the most fun isn’t always found in the biggest experiences, but the four 30 minute games that are tried and true. I’ll do my best to remember that from now on.



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Mon Nov 22, 2021 4:55 am
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Head to Head: Calico vs Cascadia

Moose Meeple
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Victoria
BC
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Over the past few weeks I've been playing Cascadia by Randy Flynn. One evening in particular I played Cascadia, then immediately after played Calico by Kevin Russ. While the two games share some similarities, the biggest thing they have in common is that they're both published by Flatout Games and AEG. Because these games share a publisher they often get mentioned in the same breath, so I thought it would be helpful to compare and contrast these titles. Hopefully this may help you decide which one is right for you!

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Mocha just made himself at home in the Calico box


Cascadia is a tile placement, pattern building, hex grid, drafting game. Calico, on the other hand, is a tile placement, pattern building, hex grid, drafting game. On paper, the only difference lies in the contrast of themes (wild animals roaming Pacific Northwest landscapes vs. cute cats on a colourful quilt). Both have you placing tiles into a personal tableau trying to manipulate a pattern to achieve the most points in order to win. Both games are illustrated by the talented Beth Sobel.

Although the two games sound interchangeable, the gameplay experience reveals significant differences, making these two games unique and anything but interchangeable. The main differences between these two games come from the restrictions they impose upon players. In Calico, you have two tiles in your hand that you can place on your board. After placing a tile on your board there are three more tiles in a central pool that you use to refill your hand. Each player in Calico has a dual layer player board showing all the slots that will be filled over the course of the game. On each board the players have three objectives, which provide options for earning points. While the objectives are not restrictions, persay (you don’t have to place tiles according to the objectives), the player board is. Players may not expand their quilts in any direction they wish. Calico seems to delight in painting you into a corner and forcing you to make the best of a bad situation.

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In Calico it’s not uncommon to find yourself in a situation where you’re desperate for a specific tile that makes everything work out just right. The lynchpin of your board requires a green polka dot tile, but because there are 35 other tiles in the game, the odds of that green polka dot tile coming out is rather low; absolutely not something you can rely on. There is also no way to mill through the bag or refresh the offer row; if none of the tiles in the offer row are useful for you, too bad. You now have a useless tile in your hand. Hopefully you can pivot your strategy to make use of it.

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ascadia on the other hand starts with 3 empty ecosystem hexes in front of each player, depicting each of the five animals once. In the centre of the table there are four sets of paired components, each comprised of one ecosystem tile and one animal disc. Each turn you’ll pick a paired set, and add the components to your tableau, adding the ecosystem tile first, then placing the animal disc on an appropriate tile in your tableau. Unlike Calico, there is no player board for Cascadia, so players are free to build their terrain in any which direction.

A second major difference is Cascadia‘s flexibility when it comes to choosing components. While Calico specifically has no options for changing the offered tiles, in Cascadia if you don’t like any of the pairs of land tiles and animal discs, you may spend a nature token to pick any ecosystem tile and any animal disc from the four on the table. If you don’t like the selection of animal discs on the table you can spend a nature token to draw new discs and put the old ones back in the bag. Finally, if the offer row shows three of the same animals, you may choose to wipe the three sets of components and be dealt fresh sets. If all four animal discs depict the same animal, they get replaced automatically.

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So far the major differences focus on flexibility – the borderless tableau as opposed to the restrictive player board, and the flexibility to change the components being offered in contrast to the “what you see is what you get” style in Calico. The final difference lies in the variety of tiles. Calico offers a larger variety of tiles, making it rarer to find the specific tile you need. In Cascadia, if you do find yourself in a situation where you really need a specific animal or ecosystem tile, there are only 5 different types of each tile. The odds of a tile that you need showing up are pretty good.

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Salmon are overrated


My game group played Calico and Cascadia back to back. Two of the people at the table hadn’t played either game before. After playing both, they reported leaning more favorably towards Cascadia, as it felt less punishing. Personally, I delight in the shackles Calico slaps onto your wrists. I find more joy in squeezing out points from a restrictive puzzle, than bathing in points delivered freely by the system.

While playing Cascadia I found myself mathing out the average number of points per animal token I was taking, with ~3 points per disc being the sweet spot and avoiding anything offering below 2.5 points per disc. In all my plays of Cascadia, this best average score per disc seemed to hover between 2.5 and 3 (except for the one time the hawks were at almost 5 points per disc). Calico on the other hand, obfuscates the final score, making it much harder to accurately gauge just how much each tile is worth, especially because each tile may contribute to three different scoring opportunities (patterns, colours, and the scoring objective on your board).

Cascadia offers replayability with 5 different scoring objectives per animal type giving a wide variety of potential scoring objectives. While variety does not equal replayability, it is a nice touch to explore different objectives. On the other hand, Calico has much less variety in it’s scoring objectives, but I find Calico’s replayability largely comes from making the best of a tough situation in regards to the tiles that are available to you on each turn.

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Both games have a significant number of scenarios and achievements to give your game an added objective reach for. Personally, I’ve really enjoyed playing the Calico scenarios solo and look forward to seeing what Cascadia does to create an engaging solo player experience.

Both Cascadia and Calico are great games, but they have some very important differences that you should know about if you’re only looking to add only one to your collection. I feel like Cascadia would be more of a hit with younger audiences, or when trying to get your nature loving partner over to the table, while Calico is an excellent suggestion if you and your gaming partners are excited over a brainteasing puzzle. If the only thing that sways you is the presence of cats, then Calico is the right choice for you!

I hope you have enjoyed my thoughts on Calico vs. Cascadia. If you have any questions or want me to expand on something, please leave a comment below!

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Thu Sep 9, 2021 11:12 pm
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The Games I’ve Played the Most but don’t Own

Moose Meeple
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Preface: This list does not include app plays, or from websites such as Board game arena or Yucata. Plays on those platforms get tracked by their own platforms and I’m a firm believer of not double recording a play. Also, while none of these plays are astronomically high, for a player like me who gets so much enjoyment form discovering new games over replaying known quantities, playing a game more than 10 times is a massive achievement in my stats.


Magic Maze – 29 plays

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Why I’ve played it so much

Magic Maze it’s a real time coop that you can lose quickly if you’re not careful. I’ve counted every mission I played in Magic Maze as it’s own individual play. the first few missions slowly introduce the mechanics, while the last dozen make the game harder. Like many coop games it restricts communication and half of the fun comes from staring at your partner who will not receive your telepathic demands to move that one pawn to the left!

Magic Maze also has a very interesting and unique mechanic where each player isn’t controlling a specific character, rather they are in control of a specific move. Every piece that wants to move left? That’s my job. You get to focus on moving people to right. And if you make a mistake and move too far, you have to hope I know what you were trying to do and correct it for you.

Why I don’t own it

I’ve played this game over 3 sessions at the local board game cafe. Those 3 sessions were with entirely different groups (my wife and I being the two consistent parties at each of the sessions) and although each session was fun and everyone walked away from the game with smiles, by the time the third session finished my wife and I agreed that we felt the game had been explored and would not hit the table in our home compared to the rest of the games we already owned. I’ve read the expansion adds significantly to the experience, but it’s not a game that I feel compelled to own.


Karuba – 27 plays

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Why I’ve played it so much

The coronavirus pandemic forced my game herd to migrate online for a year. One of the games we found on Tabletop Simulator that had a fantastic implementation was Karuba. This highly scripted version takes care of randomizing the setup, and drawing the same tile out for every player. Once tiles are placed, it automatically locks it in place, moves any gems onto the board (or off if your meeple landed on it), and pulls the next tile. We can knock a game of Karuba out in less than 10 minutes, which is impressive considering most games on Tabletop Simulator take longer to play than their IRL counterparts, even without the setup and tear down times.

Like most games on the platform, it won’t enforce the rules for you, if someone cheats and leaps around the board, it’s up to you to be aware of it and to immediately find better friends.

Why I don’t own it

This is a rare instance where I would rather play a game on TTS than on the table. I wouldn’t turn down a play of this if someone brought it out, but I do not feel the need to have a box sitting on my shelf when I know a fully functional version exists just a couple of clicks away.


Istanbul – 16 plays

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Why I’ve played it so much

Because it’s great! Really, a race to collect gems with decisions on building up a engine or to pick the low hanging fruit before your opponents get to them first. An incredibly variable play space, easy turn structure, and a fair amount of mastery if you want to plan out your turns a dozen moves ahead. Enough randomness that could swing the game if someone was feeling bold enough to bet high and roll successfully. The expansions each add a pair of mechanics that can swing an entire game (I once won a game by running my coffee engine only), and some more variability to the board, giving this game even more replayability

Why I don’t own it

In what I suspect will be perceived as a personal slight against Rüdiger Dorn, considering I have 3 of his games in a row on this list, the only reason I don’t own Istanbul myself is because someone in my friend herd already owns it, plus an expansion. If I’m ever thirsting for a game of this I can either borrow the game from him, or fire up the Android app and get half a dozen plays in over the course of an hour. This is probably the second game on my to-buy list if suddenly the game was no longer easily available to me.


Scythe – 15 plays

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Why I’ve played it so much

Rise of Fenris campaign contributed a lot to this play count, but even without the campaign compelling us to play, I very much enjoy Scythe. It’s a cold war game where the threat of combat is more tense than the actual combat. I have had some fantastic plays where my engine grows and hums and I conquer the peasants of Europa, while other games I’ve made blunders and had my opponents promptly capitalize on my mistake (over-committing to a combat, losing by 1 point, having the other 3 players all on their next turns combat my now battered army). I love the mechanic of moving things off the board to make some actions stronger and other actions cheaper, and the player who ends the game is not always the player who wins the war.

Why I don’t own it

A friend in my herd has the collectors editions, upgraded resources, expanded event cards, 2 expansions (Invaders from Afar and Rise of Fenris) and has it in his top 10 games of all time. If I’m going to be playing this game, I’ll be playing it with him.


Las Vegas – 14 plays

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Why I’ve played it so much

Las Vegas plays fairly quickly and is very easy to set up and teach. Being a very luck based dice area control game, having a serious attitude is a detriment here. Usually, I pick one person and decide to do everything I can to squeeze them out of Vegas. I often play with a variant/house rule where each player is given 2 neutral die that get rolled with all of their normal dice and must be placed with the same restrictions. Using those extra die to manipulate the market is a joy, and when you and your opponent have both committed 5 die to a single spot and you’re down to your last die and you manage to roll the exact number you need, the whole table erupts with laughter. Except for the other guy, but screw that guy, he lost and we don’t care about losers.

Pro Tip, don’t add extra sets of die and play with 8 players. At that player count the time in between turns is unbearably long, and every casino gets 8+ die on it meaning almost everything ends in a tie.

Why I don’t own it

It seems to play best with larger groups (4 or 5) and I rarely have that many people over to my table. Someone in my herd already owns it (and has more friends than I do) and I know it won’t hit my table as a 2 player game over the games I already own.


Can’t Stop – 13 Plays

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Why I’ve played it so much

Aside from being my wife’s #1 favourite game of all time, I keep finding this game everywhere. At various events where people bring games, this one always seems to be available. Each time I see it around I usually rope in the nearest two people and break it out. I’ve played this in board game cafe’s across the country (BC, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia), 2 different weddings, and at least 2 picnics. It’s easy and fun to play, and the push your luck element has my hair standing on end every time I roll the die.

Why I don’t own it

It’s way too expensive for what it is. A plastic board, a few cones (11 in each colour, plus 3 white ones), and 4 die. at my FLGS it was around $50, while online I can see it as low as $40. If I ever see this game available used for $15, I’ll be sure to snag it. It’s also the game Board Game Arena uses to teach you the platform. With it being available there and a premium membership allowing for games to be played from the same IP address, I’m not compelled to hand over my cash for this one.


Azul – 11 Plays

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Why I’ve played it so much

A very attractive game that is easy to teach and offers interesting decisions. This game usually ends up capping off a game night, or it’s another tool I use to lure people into the hobby when they’re foolish enough to accept my invitation to the local board game cafe.

Why I don’t own it

As far as abstract puzzle games are concerned, I prefer Sagrada. While not directly comparable, both end up scratching the same itch for me, and I just like rolling colorful die more than pulling Starburst from a bag.


Splendor – 11 Plays

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Why I’ve played it so much

in 2018 I was mildly obessed with this game. I loved the puzzle of building a ‘engine’ of resources and figuring out the perfect moment to shift my gameplay from collecting cards for the purpose of having more gems, and using the cards I have to finish off the recipes for the nobles. I played the Android app a bunch as well, using it to finely tune how I approached the pivot of the game and how to leap for the endgame victory points.

Why I don’t own it

Honestly, I don’t know about this one. I last played in in June of 2019 and haven’t had the urge to seek it out. I know I still like this game, but I don’t have the desire to acquire a copy and coerce my wife into playing it with me. Which is double odd because I know she likes this game too! Perhaps something replaced it for me, but I’m not sure what it is.


Concordia – 10 plays

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Why I’ve played it so much

Like Istanbul, this game is so good and so replayable it’s almost funny. with dozens of action cards with end game points coming out in different orders, the resources each city provides shuffling around, and the various way to accrue points, I love to explore this game. And this is even without the additional maps, or Concordia Salsa (which is an expansion I love) which add even more twists to the formula. The end game scoring is sufficiently obfuscated so while you may feel like you know who is going to win the game, it’s not a sure thing and I’ve seen more than a few upset victories when one player sneakily captured all the cards of a single type and exploited it for all they could.

Why I don’t own it

This is my favourite game that I don’t own and would be the first one I purchase if the person in my herd who already owns it suddenly left. Its a little more complex than the games my wife tends to enjoy so I know I wouldn’t suggest it for our 2 player game nights, but it is a game that I love to play, and with my recent foray into Solo gaming, I would like to try the solo play deck that is coming out soon.


Quadropolis – 9 plays

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Why I’ve played it so much

Quadropolis is a cute, well made city building game, with 2 modes to play. I’ve mostly played this one at the request of others, but each time it hits the table I find myself enjoying it more than I remember. One mode of the game gives each player a worker of their own number, leaving it entirely up to them to not let themselves get painted into a corner where the one tile they want is out of their reach, while the other mode of play pools all the workers together. I’ve been that guy before to just use all of the #1 workers, just to sow discord and panic amongst my ‘friends’

Why I don’t own it

I don’t love it enough to request playing it, which means it won’t be a game I pull off my shelf often enough to justify the price. This is on top of the fact that another player in my group does own it and does request playing it. No need to double up on our collections!


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Sat May 8, 2021 6:23 pm
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My Kickstarter Ambivalence

Moose Meeple
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My Kickstarter Ambivalence


I suffer from deep personal dilemmas when it comes to Kickstarter. I am constantly aware of all the projects flowing in and out of the platform, trying to tease the hard-earned money from my wallet. At the same time, I’m constantly paralyzed with fear, either of missing out on the next best game that is difficult to get after the product ships, or spending much more on a game that I could get for less after it hits retail shelves. Let me tell you about two games that recently caught my eye when they launched on Kickstarter. For both projects I chose not to pledge my support.

Burgle Bros. 2 by Tim Fowers is the follow up game to one of my favourite cooperative games of all time, Burgle Bros. When I saw the Kickstarter for Burgle Bros. 2 I decided to pass on it because I already owned the first one. The initial reviews talked about how the game ‘fixed’ some annoyances of the first one (particularly about the guard movement) that I never found to be onerous. The Kickstarter campaign failed to offer me a compelling reason to add this this shiny new version to my collection when I already owned the tried and true original.

Cut to today – the Kickstarter is being fulfilled and some of my favourite reviewers are lauding the game. According to the reviews, the production is novel and exciting, the game flows smoothly, and the campaign setting is exciting. Deep within my heart, I found myself lusting after this product. I loved the first game and desperately wanted to experience Burgle Bros 2 at the same time as the others in the board game community. I did not account for the social aspect of experiencing a new game at the same time as everyone else when I chose to pass on the Burgle Bros 2 Kickstarter. If I wanted to buy the game now, it would cost $60, plus $6 shipping. Had I backed the Kickstarter I would have only paid $50 +shipping, and I would have the game in my hands now! I pledged to myself to never miss out on another Kickstarter that really captured my attention.

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Bullet♥︎ was another Kickstarter project that I was terribly tempted to get in on. While I’m not the biggest fan of shoot-em up games (SHUMPS), I am a degenerate anime fan, and I really enjoy Level 99’s whimsy. Ultimately I passed on Bullet♥︎, knowing that the majority of my gaming partners do not find the anime aesthetic appealing.

Reviews on Bullet♥︎ started trickling into my media feed, and I found myself playing the (highly scripted) Tabletop Simulator version after having my interest renewed. I loved the puzzle the game provided. Additionally, the variability of all the different heroines and the promise of multiple game modes caused me to salivate. Again, the desire to have this game in my hands right now rose dramatically, and I found myself wandering over to their Kickstarter page to find all the things I missed out on.

Imagine my surprise when I found that the base game of Bullet♥︎ was $50 on Kickstarter, while the pre-orders have it listed for $35. The Kickstarter had no stretch goals, and no exclusives to speak of, which then begs the question, where is the value in Kickstarting this project? Is it just to have the game first? To be riding the first wave of discussion when the community at large gets their hands on it? I made a pledge to myself to remain strong and not back Kickstarters. After all, the majority of games come to retail eventually, and I can make the distributors pay for the shipping.

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These two experiences with Kickstarter perfectly illustrate my ambivalence. If I choose to back, then I regret spending my money (not to mention having to explain to my wife where that board game came from and of course it’s always been there). If I pass, I have the bitter taste of regret in my mouth for months.

Turns out Kickstarter is a push your luck game, and I am what the experts call a coward risk-averse investor


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Wed May 5, 2021 4:37 am
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The Games I’ve Played the Most on Board Game Arena

Moose Meeple
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I've played over 50 different games on Board Game Arena, and more keep getting added to that list as they continue to release new games. It's a fantastic platform to scratch that boardgaming itch that grows during the week as I anticipate my weekly game night.

This is a list of the games I've played the most over the last 3 years.


Race for the Galaxy – 151 games

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Race for the Galaxy is a tableau building game for 2-4 people designed by Thomas Lehmann. In Race for the Galaxy each player secretly chooses one of the actions they want to perform (2 actions if playing a 2 player game). The chosen actions are revealed simultaneously, and each player gets to perform each of the actions chosen by all players, with the person who chose the action getting a small benefit.

There is a interesting history of this game and how it relates to Puerto Rico, but I’m not here to talk about that. I’m here to tell you that Race for the Galaxy is a masterclass in engine building game design, and a 2 player game of Race for the Galaxy only takes 9 minutes on Boardgamearena.com. It’s amazing the quality of game design that has been achieved by Thoman Lehmann in such a small playtime. Factors such as tense decisions and satisfying resolutions contribute greatly to the game’s success. Most engine building or civilization building games take a lot of time to play (usually a couple of hours per game), so the fact that Race for the Galaxy can award its players with feelings of growth and achievement while boasting a shorter playtime is attractive to someone who doesn’t always have as much time to play games as he would like.

The BGA implementation of Race for the Galaxy also includes several expansions; The Gathering Storm, Alien Artifacts, and Xeno Invasion are some of the ones that I’ve tried, and the community is very healthy. I’ve never had to wait longer than a couple minutes for a game. I will say it is intimidating when playing against someone with over 3,000 plays, but when a game ends in 9 minutes, you can get crushed and just start again from scratch without any hard feelings.

Can’t Stop – 59 games

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Can’t Stop is a push your luck game about rolling dice and moving up tracks. On your turn you roll 4 die, pair them up in any way you’d like, and progress on those tracks that match the numbers you have chosen. During your turn, you move black pieces that represent temporary progress. Once you’ve moved the black pieces up the track, you can choose to stop and save your progress, or you may roll again and continue moving up the tracks. Roller beware! If you happen to roll something that does not match your chosen numbers for that turn, all of your progress for that turn is lost and play passes to the next player. When you successfully reach the top of a column, you win that column (so long as you stop and save your progress), and no other players may continue climbing that number. The first player to win 3 columns is the winner!


Can’t Stop tends to be the game we play while we’re waiting for someone to join the group. It’s fast to play, and I enjoy chanting the name of the game as someone makes 12 rolls in a row, climbing higher and higher, only to bust and waste all of their progress. It creates some excellent moments.

Jaipur – 30 games

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Jaipur, designed by Sébastien Pauchon, is a card drafting hand management game for 2 players. You each take turns collecting resources from the card row, either trading your existing cards or taking 1 card on its own. Eventually you sell your cards in sets, gaining tokens that represent victory points. The game ends when 3 of the 6 resources have been depleted.


I’ve always loved well-designed 2 player games, and Jaipur absolutely fits that bill. Jaipur is the kind of game where you and a friend can play dozens of games with each other and still find ways to upset the developing meta. There is plenty of luck in the game, so if a game doesn’t go your way you don’t feel too bad about the loss. Having said that, there is enough strategy that I have a 60% win rate (that sounded a lot more impressive in my head).

Through the Ages – 25 games (plus 8 games of through the ages: A new Story of Civilization)

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Through the Ages is another one of those games that makes me question the distinction between board games and card games (although I also question whether the distinction is necessary). Through the Ages is a card drafting civilization game that takes you and up to 3 opponents from the age of antiquity all the way through to the modern ages. Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization is a remake of the game that rebalances a lot of the cards, adjusts a few of the mechanics, and adds some nice new art.

I’ve only played a physical game of this once, and it took hours to play. There are 30 tiny wooden cylinders to represent your citizens and resources, and tracks that need to be managed for each player to represent culture (points), military strength, and knowledge. Also, some of the turns can be quite involved, with lots of things chaining off one another. It’s awful when you get to the end of a 7-action turn only to realize you’re one stone short and need to start over from the beginning. The BGA implementation has completely replaced the tabletop version of this game for me, as I find that not needing to deal with the fiddly little bits and counting up all the various places that you get resources from makes the game much more enjoyable. On BGA, Through the Ages takes about 45 minutes to play, although it does play asynchronously very well and I would highly recommend it.


7 Wonders – 29 games

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7 Wonders is a card drafting civilization building game where each player is trying to make their civilization the best in the world. The game consists of three decks of cards, each representing its own age. Each deck is divided into the number of players present. During play, each player will choose a card from their hand, then pass the rest of the cards to the next player. Choose wisely! You may see the cards you pass away again, but only after everyone else has had the opportunity to pick through and take what they want.

BGA has an excellent implementation of 7 Wonders that I’ve been using to bring my family together over the last year. The interface is easy to navigate and all the necessary information is readily available. The real strength of BGA is that it manages all of the rules for you. There’s no worry of someone accidently cheating by building the same card twice or ‘forgetting’ to pass the necessary coins to their neighbour. And when an easy-to-play game supports up to 7 players, I can get my entire family involved!


7 Wonders Duel – 21 plays

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I’ve already gushed about 7 Wonders Duel and how much I enjoy it. It’s a fantastic 2-player card drafting game where you’re building your civilization head-to-head against your opponent. This is another instance where playing on BGA is fast and easy. A very active game, you’ll have no problem finding players to face off against, and a entire game should only last 10 – 15 minutes, assuming neither player goes AFK for some reason.


This is one of the few games where I dabbled BGA’s Arena mode. Arena mode is a competitive mode where you can earn points on each game you play and achieve higher ranks, proudly displaying your achievement to the world. Having a higher rank does nothing tangible, other than letting you show off how big your dick hat is.

BGA has the Agora expansion available to play right now, and the Pantheon expansion (which is a must play for experienced players) is currently in Alpha.

Targi – 16 games

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Oh look, another 2-player only game on my list. Can you tell that I have a type?

Targi, designed by Andreas Steiger, is a cut-throat worker placement/set collection game. On your turn you place your 3 workers on spaces along the outside of the board. When all 6 workers have been placed, you draw a line from each of your workers and place a wooden cylinder where those lines would intersect. You then take all 5 of those actions in the order of your choosing. As an added twist, the game has a robber piece that moves around the board, and players may not place a worker on the same card that the robber occupies.

In Targi you’re trying to collect resources and spend them on tribe cards to place them into 3 rows in front of you. At the end of the game you get bonus points if all the cards in a row are the same suit, or if they’re all different suits (some of the cards will give you bonus points based on the cards and their positions in your row).

The cut-throat aspect of the game comes from maneuvering your workers to block the spaces your opponent so desperately needs, as you can’t place a worker directly across from another worker (after all, how would those lines intersect?). You’re constantly weighing the costs and benefits of spending your precious few workers. Should you claim a card that you desperately want? Or should your first action be to deny your opponent their needs? Targi is finely crafted and a joy to play, especially if your friend is willing to engage in some light trash talk, and won’t take it personally when you ice them out from a specific card for three turns in a row.




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Wed Apr 14, 2021 4:04 pm
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