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Too Many Games!!!

My wife and I love to play games together. Join us for the journey!

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Best Gaming Experiences of 2016

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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Gaming is primarily a social hobby and as such games can create good memories with people. I was particularly struck by this at a wedding this year. It was an outdoor wedding and I was sitting at a long row of picnic tables, and I would say I knew 80% of the people along that row of tables. Every single one of those people, plus the bride and the groom, are people I met through gaming. A lot of those people only knew each other initially through gaming, but here we were all sitting together as friends at the wedding of our friends.

This is one of my favorite list of the year to make as I look back at each month and select the best gaming related memory from that month.

January
The Game: Pandemic Legacy: Season 1
The Experience: At the beginning of 2016 I was very sick. I had an inflamed gallbladder caused by stones. It was fortunate I had the surgery when I did, because I found out after the fact that my condition was approaching life threatening. The week after surgery I could not do a lot, and during that time my wife and I tore through Pandemic Legacy. We completed all 12 months in 13 sessions of the period of seven days. Despite not feeling the best for some of those days it was a wonderful experience.

February
The Game: Euchre
The Experience: In February I was fortunate enough to go to Israel for a continuing education trip. After the scheduled touring was done for the day, I tended to head out to explore. However, on the first day that we arrived into Jerusalem that was not very feasible because it was raining pretty good. The Hotel lobby was fairly crowded, but I was able to find a small table in the corner and round up some other Hoosiers. It is practically a right of passage to learn Euchre if you are a native to Indiana. I spent that night playing hand after hand as we discussed our experiences on the trip up to that point. Somewhat related, on that trip I also found a game printed in Hebrew. That was one of the coolest souvenirs I brought back.


March
The Game: Dungeons & Dragons Dice Masters: Faerûn Under Siege
The Experience: It is fair to say that at the game night I attend, I am the biggest into dice masters. However, several people enjoy playing the game. Interestingly, it was the Dungeons and Dragons set that captivated people in the game group the most. This year when the next D&D set came out, several people dusted off their dice from 2015. In March at the game night we did a rainbow draft of this set. I ended up finishing second. This memory sticks out because this was the only kind of organized event I played in this year, and it was the only time this year I got to do a rainbow draft (the best way to play Dice Masters).

April
The Game: Machi Koro
The Experience: With two kids and the closest family members over an hour away, my wife and I do not get much extended time together. However, we planned a quick one day getaway to Evansville, IN. This is the town we met in, and it has a great BBQ place that had recently opened back up. The day we were in town just happened to be Tabletop Day. We played some games at a local comic book store, and then we stopped in at a Barnes and Noble to look for a book. We happened to be there right as there Tabletop day events were getting started. This included playing Machi Koro, with a prize for the winner. We played with two other people, and my wife absolutely schooled everyone. The final scores were not even close, and she victoriously claimed the pack of promo cards for the game.

May
The Game: Here I Stand

The Experience: In May I attended Geekway to the West for the second time. While I was there I got to cross a big entry off of my gaming bucket list and play this monster game. I got to play my preferred faction of the protestants. I played with a friend who I attended the con with and then a group of veterans who taught us the game. The guys we played with were good folk and pleasant to play games with. That was good, because the game took right around 13 hours to complete. At times I felt like I was on display at a zoo, as people would walk by to gawk at the people "still playing." I am very glad I got to play this game, and it is a very memorable experience. However, this will be my only play in my lifetime. For its length, the game was just not compelling enough. It was like three different games mushed together and the seams were often showing and fraying. I learned from this experience that I think eight to ten hours is my upper limit of how long I am willing to play a game for.

June
The Game: The Resistance
The Experience: Since 2010 I have volunteered once a week over the summer to be a camp director. The day before the campers come is always a counselor orientation day, and of course I brought some games with me. In the evening we played several games of Resistance, but the most memorable game was the next morning. One of the female counselors, with a very bubbly (i think that is the best words for it) personality had established herself as a bad liar. The previous night, all someone had to do was ask if she was a spy. If they held her gaze long enough, and she was a spy she would break down laughing after denying it. In the morning game after a first round fail she was under immediate suspicion. When confronted she absolutely did not laugh, and earned everyone's trust. You can see where this is going. In the end the spies win, and sure enough she was the spy all along. She picked up her spy card and dropped it like a microphone.

July
The Game: Federation Commander
The Experience: Like the past three years I ran a Federation Commander scenario at Gen Con this year. In July a couple of friends played it with me, and helped me work out the kinks. After making their modifications, the scenario was a success at Gen Con. I submitted the scenario to the publisher and they actually published it in one of their monthly newsletters this year.

August
The Game: Pokémon Trading Card Game

The Experience: I could honestly make a whole list of best gaming memories from August. Gen Con happened in August, but I also did things like play Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) for the first time. However, I think my best memories come from playing Pokemon with my son. He started to get really into Pokemon in July thanks to Pokemon Go. He discovered the cartoons and Netflix and he became very interested in the cards he kept seeing in the big box stores. In August we started with a trainer deck and walked through the script twice. However, by the end of the month he had worked up to theme decks. It has been a lot of fun exploring this game with him this year, and it all started in August. I am curious when I look back at this list a year from now, what will things be like? Will Pokemon have been a flash in the pan he forgot about or will we be knee deep in booster packs?

September
The Game: Mythos Tales
The Experience: For a wide variety of reasons September of this year was the third lowest month of recording plays in the eight years of recording plays. Mythos Tales stands out the most this month. I played it at a game night with three other people and everyone was really into it. The game was a lot of fun and the story was engaging. It was a great experience as we explored Arkham together.

October
The Game: Merchants & Marauders: Broadsides
The Experience: In 2014 we went on a Disney Cruise, and after that my wife started saving and planning to do it again. Despite some drama caused by a hurricane that threatened our trip we made it back on to the Disney Dream in October. On one of the nights, we sat at one of the tables at a cafe on the third deck (with the most amazing frozen mochas) and played this game of nautical combat. The actual sway of the boat gently reinforced the theme. It was a great time to do something we both love with the person I love the most in one of the places where she is the happiest.

November
The Game: Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective

The Experience: In my introduction I went on about the social nature of gaming, so it might be a bit odd to include a solo experience. Despite that this is my most memorable game from November. My church participated in Extra Life and sponsored a 24 hour gaming marathon. I knew for the first few hours in the morning I would probably be on my own, so I planned to play this game then. I played the third case, and I nailed it. I ended the game with 40 points which is really good for this game. What made this experience memorable is that I am in the extreme minority. Looking at the forums for this game there is thread after thread about how impossible and/or broken this case is. Yet, through a bit of dumb luck and a big jump I managed to solve the case.

December
The Game: Star Wars: Destiny – Awakenings
The Experience: This listing is very similar to my December listing of 2015. Last year it was Force Awakens and this year it was Rogue One. I got to the theater early with a friend to be first in line, and during our long wait I taught him how to play this game. It was a really good match as my Qui-Gon/Finn team barely beat out his Darth Vader/Kylo Ren team. It helped pass the time and build our excitement as we got ready to travel back to a galaxy far, far away.
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Sat Dec 17, 2016 4:25 am
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Stellar Conflict (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
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Edinburgh
Indiana
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Earlier this year when I pre-ordered Star Wars: Destiny – Awakenings it happened to be when Miniatures Market was doing a sale, and they had this game included as part of it. Since I was already spending a lot, I went ahead an added this game. I had played it about a year ago when someone brought back a copy from Essen. I enjoyed the game, and more importantly I thought it would be a starship combat game my wife would actually like. So was this a victory or did it just cause a lot of conflict?

Game Overview
In this game each player gets cards for one faction, and out of those cards they build their fleet of ships. Players build their fleet to an agreed upon point value. These ships are shuffled together. In addition to the included ships players will also put a cargo ship on top of their deck and a flagship on the bottom.

The main portion of this game is played in real time as players frantically put their ships on the table. The game can be played for a set time period, and all of the players have until the time is up to place their ships. The other option is that once a player has placed all of their ships the round ends.

The next portion of the game involves finding out what ships were hit. Every ship had an initiative rating. Starting with the lowest rating ships, all ships will shoot on their initiative. The ship cards have various lasers pointing out of them. These laser blasts are continued out from the cards until they make impact on what ever is in a straight line. There are three different strengths of lasers, and each ship can take a set number of damage. When a ship is destroyed, the player who destroyed it gets it for points.

Each time an opposing cargo ship is stolen one of the cargo pieces on it is taken. If the attacking ship survives, then the stolen cargo is worth a point.

Once all ships have fired players get points for ships they destroyed, cargo then have stolen, and their own cargo that was not stolen. The player with the most points wins.

Our Thoughts
As a reminder we rate games on our own 5 point scale. When our scores are added together, it is where we as a couple theoretically rate the game on the BGG 10 point scale.

My Rating
: 3.5 (It's OK)
My Thoughts: Spaceship combat is without a doubt my absolute favorite theme. I especially like games with a tactical/spatial element (show counters/miniatures as opposed to just a card game). This is probably the lightest and simplest a game can probably get as a spaceship combat game. The whole thing is over in less than five minutes. Yet, the theme is captured. The game is simple, it is silly, but it works. The biggest draw back is the set up and take down takes about as long as it does to play the game.

Her Rating: 2.5 (do not care for)
Her Thoughts: This game is fast, and the real time play is kind of exciting. I do not think this game is very good as a two player game. Some of the special powers, such as being able to fire twice, seems better than the others. Of all the games where facing matters, this is probably the one that I am most likely to play.

Verdict
Combined Rating: 6
She did not fully hate it, so that is a plus. This has a theme I really like, and it is close the fastest playing game we have. That means it fits a niche in our collection, and at least for now is worth holding on to.
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Tue Dec 13, 2016 4:49 am
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504 (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
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Edinburgh
Indiana
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About this time last year this was my most desired game and it was at the top of my Secret Santa wishlist. It was very exciting that I actually did get it that year from my Secret Santa! Unfortunately, it took many months to get the game played. Over the course of the past year I tried multiple times to get the game to the table, but that rule book was confusing and daunting. I finally got through it and I finally got my head wrapped around it. Now we have played a few variations is this game crazy genius or just crazy bad?

Game Overview
In this game there are nine modules. These nine modules are various game mechanisms such as pick up & deliver, production, or exploration. These different modules can be combined to create 504 unique combinations. The way that this is done is that three of these numbers are combined in one of three positions. This creates things like world 123. This means this game is a game where Pick up and Deliver is the mechanism through which points are scored, Racing is how players get money, and gaining Privileges is a mechanism that adds flavor and depth to the game. World 312 then is a game where gaining privileges is how a player wins the game, Pick up and Deliver is how the players make money, and racing adds flavor and depth to the game.

Every game type is played on a map made of hex tiles, and there are five possible board configurations that these 504 scenarios can use. Exactly how the game can be won is dependent on the module that is used.

Our Thoughts
As a reminder we rate games on our own 5 point scale. When our scores are added together, it is where we as a couple theoretically rate the game on the BGG 10 point scale.

My Rating: 4 (like it)
My Thoughts: I have a weakness for buying video game compilations. These are discs where dozens of older games are put together in one package. Even though newer and better games are released I like those compilations because I love the sense of exploration and discovery. 504 is like the board game version of one of those compilation discs. I have read a lot of criticism about this game that it is a failure because none of the 504 combinations are one of the best games ever. From the combinations we have played all of the games were fun and worked mechanically. We would not play many of them over and over again, but re-playing the same scenario over and over is not the point of this game. The point is the sense of discovery and exploration. In that department this game delivers like nothing else. The biggest downfall is that it can be intimidating to learn.

Her Rating: 4 (like it)
Her Thoughts: I was initially very skeptical of this game, but I am very impressed by how it comes together. This game has so much variety, and I really like that. I have enjoyed what we have played so far. I am optimistic that more combinations are going to be just as fun, and I am excited about the possibility of exploring all these different game set ups.

Verdict
Combined Rating: 8
We both see 504 being a game that we will play a lot over the long haul. We both love that we can play this game 504 times, and every play is guaranteed to be unique. The sense of exploration and discovery in this game is incredible, and we are both looking forward to exploring the worlds this game can create for quite some time.
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Fri Dec 9, 2016 4:29 am
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Star Wars: Destiny (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
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Edinburgh
Indiana
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This is a game that hits on a lot of high points for me. I like games that mix cards and dice in interesting ways, I find two player duel games fun, enjoy customizable games, and I love Star Wars. We took the plunge on this game early on and we pre-ordered the two starter decks as well a display box of boosters. It is easy to say that I went into this game with a good deal of hype, but my wife also had some level of skepticism. So now that we have played the game did it make my wife a believer or convince me to stay away?

Game Overview
In this game each player will bring either an evil or hero team to the game. In a standard game both players bring a team that will consists of characters. Each character will come with one or two dice. Depending on the character selected and the number of dice will determine a point value, and each player can bring up to 30 points with them. In addition to their characters player will also have a deck of 30 cards.

The players deck of cards will consist of event cards that can be played for an immediate effect, upgrade cards which attach to character and increase the dice the character has available, or support cards that can provide extra dice or once per round effects.

Each game round consist of players going back and forth taking a single action. As an action a player can play one of the cards from their hand, roll their dice for a single character/support, use a support card action, or resolve their dice. After taking the single action, the opponent gets to take a single action. Players can also discard a card from their hand as an action to reroll dice. This goes back and forth until both players pass. Once this happens the round ends. Players draw back up to five cards, unexhaust all cards, retrieve their dice, and get two resources.

When resolving dice, players can resolve all of the dice that show the same symbol. Their are multiple symbols. Some give shields to defend against damage, others give resources, or even make the opponent discard cards. Through the dice are also how players attack. There are ranged and melee attacks. When a player resolves these dice they choose and opponent character to damage. Shields are first removed and the damage is applied. If a character ever damage equal to their life they are defeated and removed from the game.

The first player to defeat all of their opponent's characters wins.

Our Thoughts
As a reminder we rate games on our own 5 point scale. When our scores are added together, it is where we as a couple theoretically rate the game on the BGG 10 point scale.

My Rating: 4.5 (like it)
My Thoughts: This game is so good. Limiting the players to a single action at a time eliminates setting up the killer combo that is found in a lot of customizable games. This structure also makes for extremely interesting decisions as the order that actions are taken can be very important and can be changed to react to or counteract the opponent. I also love the use of the Star Wars theme. This plays like a card version of Star Wars: Epic Duels. It is fun to have Han Solo fly Padme around in the Millennium Falcon or have Kylo Ren be the Sith apprentice of Darth Vader.

My complaint about the game is the distribution model. We bought one display box, and we are missing out on a lot. For instance, the only red evil character we have is a single stormtrooper. This effectively means that all of the evil red cards are mostly useless to us right now. For all characters they can have one or two dice. However, outside of the two starter characters that have two dice we only got extra dice for two hero characters in the box. This means right now for the villain side, Kylo Ren is the only character that can have two dice. It seems to play this game with any real degree of customization that a minimum of two display boxes is needed. This problem is compounded by the fact that the game has a rare and super rare rarity structure. Of course the most popular characters (Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo) are legendary rarity, and there are only six-seven legendary cards in the box. I realize that for Magic players this is all par for the course. However, I am coming from Dice Masters and I did not realize just how really friendly overall the dice masters collectible set up is.

Her Rating: 4.5 (like it)
Her Thoughts: I like the back and forth this game has. The simple take one action turn structure makes it very easy to plan several actions ahead but still be able to adapt on the fly. I appreciate that this game is much more straightforward that a game like dice masters or even Warhammer Invasion. Only taking one action at a time makes it so there are not fancy combos that require exact timing. I do dislike the collectible aspect though.

Verdict
Combined Rating: 9
Despite both not being wild about the distribution model, we are all in for this one. My wife even independently contacted stores to see if they have any display boxes in stock (they do not), but we do plan on getting another one when they are available again. This is a game that really connects with us, and one that will probably be getting played a good deal.
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Thu Dec 8, 2016 4:30 am
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Favorite Games of 2015-Revisited

sean johnson
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Edinburgh
Indiana
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Now that we are in December, it is closing in on the time for all of the fun end of the year posts. This will include my favorite games from 2016, but first I think it is worth looking back at the list I made for 2015. At the beginning of 2015, when I made that list I stated that I had played around fifty games from 2015. I am not entirely sure how I counted, because I think I counted a few games I played in 2015 that were not actually released until this year. I think I have played about fifteen additional 2015 releases in 2016. I was actually a little surprised it was that few.

Now that a year has passed and 2016 is approaching a close, how well did my favorite games from last year hold up?

10. Two Rooms and a Boom 8 plays in 2016

I have plans to play this game this month which means by the end of the year it will actually be more than eight plays. When it comes to large group games this is probably still my favorite. This game does have a few issues though. It can be hard to teach, because there are some people who just do not understand exactly what they are supposed to be doing. It is also possible to get stuck in a room and have a role that lacks any influence. In these cases games can be a bit of a dud for those individual players. Despite those minor drawbacks, this is still a game I enjoy, a game that will get played, and one of my favorite games of 2015.

9. Viceroy 10 plays in 2016
This game was part of our 10x10 list, so it got played quite a bit this year. I still agree that this game as some of the best artwork of any game, even if the theme is all most non-existent. I do enjoy this game at least as a two player game. All of my plays have been with just two, and I am not sure if I would like this game with more.

8. Coup: Rebellion G54 17 plays in 2016

Of all the games from my 2015 favorite game list this is the one that I have played the most. This continues to be a fantastic way to breathe new life into Coup. This year I got Coup: Rebellion G54 – Anarchy, which added even more roles. The biggest issue with this game is that the set up is kind of a pain and teaching this game to new people is not easy, as each role has to be explained, each time it comes out. However, for people who have played Coup a lot this offers a fresh and welcomed challenge. Even after multiple plays this year it still holds up for me.

7. Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 13 Plays in 2016
When I made my favorite games of 2015 list at the beginning of January, we were in June of this game. It was only a couple of weeks later we had completed the experience. My wife and I both really enjoyed this game, and I do think that it was one of the best games of the year. This should probably be in the 2 or 3 spot of the favorite games of 2015.

6. Risk: Star Wars Edition 1 play in 2016
I am really glad they did something new with this game instead of make a traditional risk game with a Star Wars paint job. I do like the card play of this game. I could be wrong, but I feel like this game is really slanted to the rebels. I only played it once this year, but I think every play I have gotten in the rebels won. I do like this game, but it would probably get bumped off the list from other games of this year that I have since played.

5. Blood Rage 2 plays in 2016

This was the one game I included last year that we did not own, at the time I had said I hoped I would get to play it more. Thankfully I did, but it has been a couple of months since this game out at game night. I really enjoy this game and I am up for playing it some more. We have not purchased the game, because I have serious reservations about what my wife will think about it.

4. Elysium 2 plays in 2016
I had hoped this game would get played more this year. I wanted it on our 10x10 list but my wife picked Deus. This is a game I need to explore more as I have not yet even tried all of the included deities. This would still be on my favorite games of 2015, but it would be more in the six to eight range.

3. Mysterium 7 plays in 2016
I think at this point most of plays have been as the ghost. We won more than we lost, so I must be OK at it. This year we got the expansion for this game and it adds some much needed variety to the cards. Honestly I would not mind an additional expansion as well. This is easily my favorite co-op game, and honestly it should be in the one or two sport for favorite games from 2015.

2. Roll for the Galaxy 10 plays in 2016

A few months ago my wife and I documented our falling out with this game. I put it so high on this list last year mostly out of how much I wanted to like it. However, even when I made the list the game was showing some blemishes and I had hopes the expansion were going to take care of those. That did not happen. Each time we played the game, we found ourselves liking it less and less. The last couple of 10x10 plays were not very fun, as we were forcing ourselves to play a game we both decided we did not like or find enjoyable. With over 30 plays we tried hard to like this game, but it was a big turkey for us and it would now not be on my favorite games of 2015 list.

1. Alchemists 1 play in 2016
This became an instant purchase for me after playing it the first time in 2015, and I do not regret that decision. I have a lot of fun playing this game, and I love the deduction/logic puzzle aspect of it. This game is so satisfying to play because even if I loose I feel like I won if I figure everything out. The high learning curve and play time makes it hard to get this one out, but it is still one of my favorite games of 2015.

Of the dozen or so games from 2015 I played since making the list there are three that I would probably consider for the list. I know that Codenames would be on it. Currently it is my most played game this year. I would also consider adding 7 Wonders Duel. The final game I might include is Watson & Holmes: From the Diaries of 221B. I only played the game once, but I adored it.
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Mon Dec 5, 2016 6:49 pm
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My Star Wars Fan Theory

sean johnson
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Edinburgh
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I am anxiously awaiting my pre-order of Star Wars: Destiny – Awakenings to arrive. I am also counting down the days until the Rogue One premiere, and I am excited that in four days the new map for Star Wars: Battlefront (2015) drops.

Right now, I am full froth on all things Star Wars. I know it is a little off topic for this blog, but I made a video about how I understand one of the big questions of the Star Wars story. I would appreciate if you could watch it, and I love it if you will share your thoughts.

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Fri Dec 2, 2016 2:27 pm
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End of Month Recap

sean johnson
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Thanks to an Extra Life event giving me a big start to the month, November had a lot of plays. One of the games I did not play this month was Federation Commander. I know that I kind of left the tournament I was playing in limbo. I blame the fact that I started playing Fallout 4 (a year late to the party).


Number of Games Reviewed this Month: 4
Highest Rated Game This Month: Invasion from Outer Space: The Martian Game
Best New to me Game: Exceed: Red Horizon

State of the Collection
Number of Games Added: 1
Number of Game Removed: 1
Number of Games in Collection: 200
We gave away a small dice game, but then we got the much larger dice game Colony. Technically we have the same number of games, but the size is not quite comparable.


10x10 Challenge
Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 Completed!
Warhammer: InvasionCompleted!
Ticket to Ride Completed!
Fleet Completed!
Tides of Time Completed!
Roll for the Galaxy Completed!
Glory to Rome Completed!
Star Wars: Imperial Assault Completed!
Viceroy Completed!
Deus Completed!

With one month to spare we finished the 10x10 challenge. Next year I want to sit this specific challenge out. However, my wife has a very specific list she wants to try for. Come January 1st, we will see who prevails.
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Thu Dec 1, 2016 4:19 am
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Enemy in Sight (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
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I think I added this to my "want in trade" list close to six years ago. I added it shortly after playing Wooden Ships & Iron Men. I loved the game, but my wife hated it. I tried to find something we would both like with a similar theme, and this was the best option I could find. Plus, just look at that title and box cover. The game certainly looks exciting. Earlier this year this game was offered up in the wargame pay it forward geeklist, and I jumped on claiming it. Was this game worth the wait or should it just strike it's colors?

Game Overview
Each player controls a line of ships and uses those ships to try and destroy or capture opposing ships. This is a card game, where everything is represented by the cards.

On a player's turn they will first draw back up to their hand limit which is set by the number of ships they control. If the player drew a red card, this is a mandatory even, some of which are very bad on the person who drew it. If a player does not have a red card, then they may play or discard one action card.

There are several different action cards, but most are broadside cards. These cards are divided in to "rates" and the rate of the broadside determines which ships can make the shot. Rake cards can be played with a broadsides to increase damage. The attacker determines if the shot on the target ship is applied to the hull or the rigging. If applied to the hull the ship can be sunk, if applied to the rigging he ship can be dramatically limited in the cards that can be used by that boat and it is easier to capture.

There are some special actions cards as well. Some of these cards can create special conditions like a fire. When a ship is destroyed he destroyer get points equal to the values of the ship. If the ship is captured by a boarding party card then the ship is worth double points.

The rule book says to play to 100 points, but players can set different totals.

Our Thoughts
As a reminder we rate games on our own 5 point scale. When our scores are added together, it is where we as a couple theoretically rate the game on the BGG 10 point scale.

My Rating: 1.5 (do not like)
My Thoughts: This game has some similarities to the venerable Naval Warfare card game system, but this game is much more boring. The gameplay boils down to draw a card, play a card, repeat. There is added complexity for no purpose and the whole thing takes a miserably long time.

Her Rating: 1 (never want to play again)
Her Thoughts: It has been a while since we have played a game this bad. It is so boring. The components, even for an older game, are absolutely terrible. I am glad they do not make games like this anymore.

Verdict
Combined Rating: 2.5
This game was a complete and total flop. I would love to have an age of sail game, but this is not it. When it comes to looking for one my wife will play I am done looking, because Merchants & Marauders: Broadsides is as close as I will ever get to finding one she likes.
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Thu Nov 24, 2016 4:11 am
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Ninja Bowling (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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I come from a family of bowling. My dad and brother are huge bowlers, so when Ninja Bowling popped up in the Jack Vasel Memorial Auction I bid on it. I figured that if I won the auction I would give to one of my family members. It turned out that we did win, so before we give it away my wife and I took the opportunity to give it a try. So does this game score a strike or is it a big gutter ball?

Game Overview
In the two player game both players set up their six pin cards in a triangle. Players will then take turns throwing their star cards at the opponent's pins. Each throwing star than lands on top of the opponent card hits and the card is removed.

The player that hit the most pins gets to score a spare. The next time that player is supposed to get a spare, the spare they already have becomes a strike. If at any point a player removes all six pins then they get an automatic strike.

In the mini-version there is a multiplayer version where players take turns throwing their cards. Each time someone hits their last pin card they give that player one of their strike cards, and then reset their pins.

In either version the first player to win three strike cards wins.

Our Thoughts
As a reminder we rate games on our own 5 point scale. When our scores are added together, it is where we as a couple theoretically rate the game on the BGG 10 point scale.

My Rating: 3 (It's OK)
My Thoughts: A few years ago, FlowerFall got some level of hype. The core mechanic of that game, throwing cards, never quite got on. There were a couple of other games that utilized that concept, but it mostly stayed a gimmick. Ninja Bowling, being released in 2015, is a latecomer. However, of the card throwing games I probably like this one the best. It is silly and it is simple. This game has the appeal of a carnival game, in that it seems like it should be so much easier than it is. This really inspires a "one more time" feel, because each time you feel so close to getting it. This is not a game I would want to play often, but it is a pleasant distraction.

Her Rating: 2.5 (do not care for)
Her Thoughts: This game is silly. When we started playing I was like "really?" But as the game went on, I was kind of getting into it. This game is silly, but it is not bad.

Verdict
Combined Rating: 5.5
I am glad that we were able to support the Jack Vasel memorial fund through getting this game. We bought it to give away, so that is what we will be doing.
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Tue Nov 22, 2016 3:45 pm
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Moonbase Alpha (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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I do not know where I picked this up, but for some reason I thought that this was an economic area control game with a war game inspired combat system. As such I thought my wife might actually play it and I got it in a math trade. It turns out that the war game inspiration is fairly strong. It is still accurate to call this an economic area control game, but it is is also very accurate to call it a war game (which my wife reminded me of often). She tends not to be a big fan of war games, but she did play this. So did this game end up being one small step for her and one giant step for war games?

Game Overview
In this game players control rival companies fighting for control of the moon's mining operations. The goal is to reach the highest stock price or drive the opponent in to bankruptcy.

Each turn follows a few phases. In the first prepare phase players receive income. It is $4 plus $1 for each mine they control. This money can be used to buy new units. There are three types infantry, vehicles (MCU), and crawlers (tanks). It can also be used to rush the end of the game and move up the turn track, or it can be used to move the media marker somewhere else on the board. Finally, money can be used one per turn to increase the company stock price.

Next during the prepare phase, players will place their command markers on the board. Each player has three real markers that are numbered and one bluff.

The next phase is the action phase. This is where players will resolve their command markers. Players take turn resolving their #1 marker, then #2, and finally #3. When a player activates the marker they can take one of four actions: Move, fire, assault, or upgrade. Move allows a player to move all of their units in the activated space. After moving, the activated units can do bounding fire, which is combat with a penalty.

Bounding fire works like the fire action. The fire action can be taken in the same or adjacent space. The attacking unit adds up their fire power total, and roll two six sided dice. A combat resolution table is consulted for the result. There are a variety of modifiers and even conditions that can create column shifts. If you are familiar with war games this all will be old hat, if you are not it will probably feel clunky.

The combat table will give a result, and the defender then gets a saving throw for each impacted unit. The defender rolls a die and if they roll equal to or greater than the armor total they save and suffer a lesser result.

Assault is a different form of combat where both sides roll a die, add the number of their units in the spaces. The high number wins but both sides will suffer losses in the high risk/high reward assault.

Upgrade is how players get new tech. Each player starts with five upgrade cards. To attempt an upgrade two six sided dice are rolled. The upgrade will show the target numbers. Each science symbol the player controls will add one to the die roll. If the number is reached the upgrade is implemented, if not it can be attempted again. Really good rolls will also increase the stock price, and really bad ones will lower the stock price.

The final phase is resolution. If a side suffered combat losses their stock price may lower. If the losses occurred next to the media marker then the chance is greater. If only one player suffers a loss in price then the other will actually go up. The turn track marker is also advanced one.

The game goes on until the turn tracker reaches the end, one player reaches the top of the stock track or one player is reduced to bankruptcy at the bottom of the stock track.


Our Thoughts
As a reminder we rate games on our own 5 point scale. When our scores are added together, it is where we as a couple theoretically rate the game on the BGG 10 point scale.

My Rating: 3.5 (It's OK)
My Thoughts: I really like the retro sci-fi aesthetic of this game. I also think this game has some very unique mechanisms in it. I really like the way the command system works with putting the markers out in advance, and I love the bluff element. The combat system is interesting as well. It is easy to calculate and the use of a saving throw is unique. I prefer this to comparing attack to defense and rounding down to odds like a lot of war games do.

Her Rating: 1 (do not want to play again)
Her Thoughts: I do not like the combat system. The use of charts always frustrates me, and it feels like it over complicates everything. The war game mechanics are not my biggest dislike though. This game has a lot of advance planning which I do not like. I feel like I never know what to do when placing my command markers. For me that whole process is stressful, and I feel like I always do it wrong. When it comes to combat games I will just stick to Memoir 44.

Verdict
Combined Rating: 4.5
When I read the rulebook, I knew we would be in trouble and that my wife would not like the game. I am thankful that she was still willing to give it a shot. We will eventually trade this game, but I am going to try really hard to get a few more plays in with someone else before then.
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Sat Nov 19, 2016 1:29 pm
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