Everything that sucks! And some things that don't.

Nuggets of wisdom amidst incoherent ramblings. You're welcome.

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Reviewing... Idle Hands

Christian Heckmann
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Mainz
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Once again it's a rather slow week for board game content. And it doesn't look like things are gonna change that much in the next few days. As said, two days from now, I'm gonna go on vacation (a pretty short one and I need to "work" through it, taking care of some university stuff) and I hope that I'll be able to bridge that time with daily articles, but you never know. Anyway, here's something I watched (again) a few days ago...



So let's go back to 1999. We're pretty much at the height of the teenie-slasher-craze (ironically) brought upon the world by "Scream" and everybody and their friggin' dog are currently trying to cash in on the whole thing by churning out glossy-looking horror-trash with young hopefuls in starring roles. Remember "Urban Legend"? Remember "Valentine"? Remember "Wishcraft", the one with the wish-granting bull-penis-totem? You probably don't. You haven't missed out on anything. Anyway, in the midst of this flood of disposable garbage that nobody remembers in this day and age, "Leprechaun II"-director Rodman Flender adapted a script by Ron Milbauer and Terri Hughes Burton into the movie "Idle Hands", a story about a young stoner whose hand gets possessed by the devil and starts to go on a killing-spree in a small backwater town. Hilarity ensues.

The movie (which actually wasn't that cheaply produced, they put a whoppin' 25 million dollars into that one) bombed pretty hard at the box office and was savaged by critics upon release. Me? I didn't care that much about that, I mean, I was twelve back then and 14 two years later, when I watched the film for the first time. And I loved it. So since the thing has gone on to become somewhat of a cult-classic, it's fair to say that I was a bit of a forerunner when it comes to appreciation of the movie. Well, either that or I was young and impressionable and would have given every movie that featured my favorite band at that time, The Offspring, the seal of approval. I'd like to think that it's the former, though.

Anyway, "Idle Hands", right? A.k.a. that one pretty funny idea from "Evil Dead II" expanded into a ninety minute movie. Doesn't sound like a formula for the greatest movie of all time, does it? And it certainly isn't. My enthusiasm for the film has decreased considerably over the last ten to fifteen years, I guess (because at some point, I considered the film one of my all-time-favorites), but that doesn't mean that it's bad in any way. Far from it. While certainly not all of the jokes stick the landing (most of the stoner-humor hasn't aged particularly well), the movie's penchant to cram every scene full of absurdities means that some of 'em are probably gonna make you at the very least chuckle. A lot of the humor is physical, with loads of slapstick and quite a few gross-out-scenes, but there's also more clever stuff in there, absurd situations, fun dialogue, neat observations about human nature, you get the point. For a movie that is so overtly stupid, "Idle Hands" is written very, very well. The horror-parts on the other hand don't fare as well. They are competently made, sure, the effects are pretty good with loads of practical work especially in the gore-department, but they are just so by-the-numbers that you can't help but get the feeling that the people making this one were far less interested in crafting a horror movie than using some horror motifs to enhance a comedy. Which is fine by me.

It helps that the cast is really good. Canadian actor Devon Sawa is mostly known for playing the role of Alex Browning in the first "Final Destination"-movie and the human form of "Casper" in the 1994-film and he's really good in this one as the lazy, shlubby protagonist Anton. He's certainly likeable enough to keep the audience hooked even throughout his less-than-noble exploits early on and he's really good when it comes to physical comedy. I mean, Bruce Campbell certainly did quite well, pretending that his hand didn't obey his commands back in "Evil Dead II", but Sawa is on a whole other level in that regard and it's a lot of fun to watch. So is Seth Green as Anton's best friend Mick, but that shouldn't be a surprise, given Green's immense comedic talent. All in all, there's not much bad to say about any of the actors, Elden Henson, Vivica A. Fox and Jack Noesworthy do fine jobs, a young Jessica Alba (18 at that time)
delivers a great performance as Sawa's love-interest (with a few... let's say "quirky idiosyncracies" up her sleeves), but the cast's highlight is certainly Christopher Hart who has previously played disembodied hands in multiple things like the "Addams Family"-movies from the nineties. He manages to lend a lot of personality to the hand once it has... "detached" from Anton's body (spoilers maybe?). Yeah, well, he might be a one-trick-pony given his previous work, but he's really, really good at what he does.

So all of this is well and good, right? "Idle Hands" is a fun film with a lot of good laughs, a respectable cast and neat effects. Anything else? Well... yeah. For all its gore and profanity and stuff, it's kind of charming. This feels like a movie that could have just been made then and there. The protagonists' drug-escapades, the sexual innuendo, the language, all of it feels so very, very matter-of-fact and sincere, not stilted like it was written by someone out of touch with the youth of the late 1990s, but like it just organically came about during filming (which might very well be in some instances, allegedly parts of the movie have been improvised on the spot, like when Anton tries to rinse his mouth with dish soap after smoking oregano and nutmeg... don't try this at home, kids). Looking at it from today's point of view, there might theoretically be quite problematic aspects to the movie (I guess it's safe to say that it isn't NOT sexist and/or a bit homophobic in parts), but it just manages to capture a certain form of sense of life that probably never existed outside of shlocky late-nineties-pseudo-horror-movies to a T. Whatever that's worth.

Bottom line, if you're into the cleverer breed of stupid movies, "Idle Hands" is a great way to spend ninety minutes one to five dozen times. Go watch it, now, you probably won't regret it.

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Monday Night Multiplayer Solitaire #33: Die Tavernen im Tiefen Thal

Christian Heckmann
Germany
Mainz
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Let's manage a tavern, shall we? Today's game is Die Tavernen im Tiefen Thal.



As always, I'm gonna assume that you already know the rules, also we're gonna use the solo-variant proposed over here, so feel free to familiarize yourself with that one as well. We're gonna use all of the modules, because that way, the game is most interesting, if you asked me. I'm gonna predetermine the setup (so the starting-customers as well as the three starting-resource-cards), the die-rolls (the private ones - if you have one waitress, just take the first one, two the first two and three or more all three of those - as well as those you can draft) as well as the new customers that are flipped up every time you buy one of those (remember to discard all of the other ones and completely fill up the queue). Everything else falls under your responsibility. Ready? Then here we go...

Setup:



Round 1 die rolls:

Private dice:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
1 4 2


First roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
1 1 2 6


Second roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
4 5 5


Third roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
1 2


Fourth roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
2


Round 2 die rolls:

Private dice:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
3 3 2


First roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
1 1 2 4


Second roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
1 3 5


Third roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
2 4


Fourth roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
4


Round 3 die rolls:

Private dice:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
2 5 4


First roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
4 5 5 5


Second roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
1 1 1


Third roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
1 4


Fourth roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
2


Round 4 die rolls:

Private dice:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
5 1 5


First roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
1 4 4 6


Second roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
1 3 4


Third roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
1 3


Fourth roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
3


Round 5 die rolls:

Private dice:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
5 6 3


First roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
3 4 4 6


Second roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
4 4 6


Third roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
4 6


Fourth roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
5


Round 6 die rolls:

Private dice:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
2 5 4


First roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
3 3 3 6


Second roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
1 4 6


Third roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
2 4


Fourth roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
3


Round 7 die rolls:

Private dice:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
5 1 5


First roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
2 4 5 6


Second roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
1 3 6


Third roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
4 5


Fourth roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
6


Round 8 die rolls:

Private dice:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
6 1 2


First roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
4 5 5 6


Second roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
1 3 6


Third roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
1 5


Fourth roll:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
6


New guests:

First refill:

Spoiler (click to reveal)


Second refill:

Spoiler (click to reveal)


Third refill:

Spoiler (click to reveal)


Fourth refill:

Spoiler (click to reveal)


Fifth refill:

Spoiler (click to reveal)


Sixth refill:

Spoiler (click to reveal)


Seventh refill:

Spoiler (click to reveal)


Sorry about the pic, I somehow forgot to snap a photo of the final four cards...


Final score:

Spoiler (click to reveal)


142 points


After-game discussion:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Wow, turn seven was crazy, wasn't it? Well, mine was at the very least (check it out in the video below starting at 26:30). Apart from that, yeah, things worked out quite nicely. I never got my hands on a really expensive guest because I just couldn't get my beer-production going reliably, but I usually got a lot of reputation points each turn, so that was good. I should have probably bought a few more upgrades, that would have probably improved my score a bit. As it was, I only managed to get two (waitress and table), but 142 is pretty respectable in my opinion, so... yeah, cool.


If you want to see me play the challenge instead of just reading about it, here's the video-version of it. Sorry for the strange cut at the beginning of turn eight, as mentioned in the video, my cam ran out of batteries halfway through so I had to redo it and because of obligations, I only managed to do so the very next day. Anyway, enjoy!



Okay, next week's game is gonna be Reykholt. I hope that I'll get that one done in time, because I'm gonna be on vacation from Thursday until Friday of the week after that, so I'm gonna have a pretty restrictive window of opportunity to get the thing played. I guess it'll work out, but if something goes wrong and the challenge won't be online next Monday, you know why. Anyway, here's the poll for the game after that.

Poll
Which game should be played in two weeks' time on Monday Night Multiplayer Solitaire?
Can't Stop Express
Cucina Curiosa
Merkator
Penny Papers Adventures: The Temple of Apikhabou
Penny Papers Adventures: The Valley of Wiraqocha
      15 answers
Poll created by Harblnger
Closes: Sat Jun 29, 2019 6:00 am


Alrighty, thanks for checking this out once again and see you next time.

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Mon Jun 24, 2019 7:00 pm
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A Study In... Orange?

Christian Heckmann
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Mainz
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This week was pretty busy. I played games on Monday, I played games on Tuesday, on Thursday, we engaged in an extracuriccular Lamentations of the Flame Princess-session (we escaped from the blob-bishop and Zaki had a strange encounter with a succubus-like creature which let him age 71 years... this game is weird) and in between, on Wednesday, I also played some games. Three to be exact. Here they are.



Three games in, I'm still not really sure how much I like Vindication. The fact that I have only played it three times ever since getting a hold of it roughly five months ago probably indicates that I'm not completely blown away by it, but I would be lying if I said that I didn't find it intriguing. I mean, I generally like efficiency-games and what is Vindication if not that? Every turn, you try to combine your three mandatory actions in the most efficient way to get ahead in the game, pushing cubes across the board and building a bunch of interlocking mini-engines, I guess. But my main problem is that at the end of the day, all of it feels so... I don't wanna say "uninvolving", I mean, I feel involved in everything I'm doing in the game, I just don't really care about my opponents in any way. Sure, they might take control of a region from me, they might block my movement, they might take a card I wanted to take, but all of this is neither something that feels like real interaction, nor something that I could have prevented them from doing most of the time. It's just a game where everybody does something and then, at the end of the game, scores are compared and somebody wins. Oh, also that somebody wasn't me in Wednesday's game.



My secret goal forced me to get rid of all of my potential, so I was like "I guess I'm gonna vindicate myself then". The fact that I quickly got a companion that let me augment power as many times as I had proficiency tiles in front of me. Great. The problem was the fact that one of the end-game-triggers was the number of bought proficiency tiles. So while I bought them not only in order to get rid of all of my potential, I also tried to score majorities that way (which worked, I won three of the six majorities). Another player however just bought them in order to hurry the game along, because he felt that he had already lost anyway and therefore just wanted it to end. So the game was quite short. A bit over an hour. And that was with the full complement of five people. Which is good, at least the game doesn't outstay its welcome that way. But does it have to come in such a humongous box then? I know, I'm kind of rambling, but that's how Vindication makes me feel. I kind of like quite a few things about it, but somehow not enough to really want to dig deeper into it and the giant box doesn't help in that regard either. So... yeah, dunno if that's helpful to anybody. As said, perhaps I need to come to terms with my own opinion on the game before attempting further analysis.



Next up was the great A Study in Emerald. I drew Restorationist AGAIN and quickly decided that I should grab as many bombs as I could get my hands on, because you can never have too many bombs, I guess. The other players were busy grabbing cities (either unoccupied ones or ones that other players controlled) and it became clear to me pretty soon that I only had a single ally while there were three Loyalists in the game. So I tried to sow some confusion by not comitting to anything, mainly camping out in London, unknown to the authroities, amassing a huge arsenal of bombs that I could unleash on Gloriana once my time had come. The problem was, that time never came. I wasted too much time fishing for the right cards in the deck while the other players amassed a lot of points and then (admittedly due to a mistake on my part), one of the Loyalists just grabbed Berlin, revealed his identity and won the game. My co-Restorationist wasn't too happy seeing me sit at zero points.



This was a weird game of A Study in Emerald. The board was very crowded with loads of agents (one of the Loyalists had proceeded to buy pretty much every agent he could get his hands on), there was hardly a struggle for control of cities and most of us were content with just deckbuilding instead of doing something... I don't know, more clever perhaps. I had a plan at one point to just shoot ahead of my ally pointwise and then blow him up in order to finish the game, but then the moment where I could have done that passed and I had to reorganize all of my strategies. It was still highly enjoyable, also very quick and all of the players seemed to pick up on the game rather quickly (well, it helped that we only had one newbie at the table). So yeah, A Study in Emerald is still great and I'm happy that I got the chance to already play it so often this year. Here's to a few more games of Wallace's masterpiece over the course of the second half...



The final game of the night was a four-player-game of Asking for Trobils. I promised the other guys that we should be able to play this one in an hour or so (probably including teaching) and I think we pulled that off. I tried my hand at a one-ship-strategy (not sure one could call it that) and also refrained from taking any money pretty much all throughout the game. It worked reasonably well. I was bumped a few times, which did indeed help, and I was always quite efficient in getting what I needed. Alas, it wasn't enough. Come game end, I came in last place with 41 points, but it was still kind of close. Well, the player winning the game had 49 (11 of those from the final Trobil-card) while the other two players had 43 and 42 points respectively. So yeah, never buying any ships might be viable, I guess.



I think I like Asking for Trobils. I don't know how much exactly, but I guess I'm gonna hang on to it for now, not only because it scales from two to seven players (and I'm pretty sure that it remains somewhat playable with every number of those) but also because it is super-quick and has almost no downtime. Plus the central set-collection-mechanism is one that appeals to me quite a bit. Even though I feel like that can turn a bit problematic, especially come endgame. See, in our game, one player already had the necessary stuff to get the last Trobil-card, so all of us other players were like "Well, gathering the stuff that one needs to catch that one would be stupid, once anyone has all of the things, you can still just take it". So we rather grabbed stuff that we already knew would provide us with points at the end of the game. But because of that, the player who already could take said Trobil at his leisure decided "Well, there's no hurry to take that one, right? I think I'm gonna gather some stuff as well". So yeah, something like that could probably prolong the game. Also the final city can be problematic. Had the money-city been revealed, I would have had an additional five VPs to my score (which wouldn't have catapulted me to first place, but that might happen). So yeah, this isn't a very deep game, I guess, but at the end of the day, it's quick, looks neat and is good fun, so that's worth something, I guess.

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Sun Jun 23, 2019 7:00 am
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You are wrong about... Endeavor!

Christian Heckmann
Germany
Mainz
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Disclaimer: You are not wrong. If you are of a different opinion than I am, that's fine and my words in this post shouldn't detract from your enjoyment or loathing of the game in question in any way.

"Oh my God, he's doing it to a grail-game!" Yup, looks like it. But relax, on the one hand, Endeavor: Age of Sail is out and that has also kind of beaten down the prices of the original game, so you can get the game for a relatively sensible price now, on the other, I'm doing you a service by telling you why you don't even fork out that amount of money. You're welcome.



When I first heard about Endeavor, people were talking about it in a hushed tone, spreading fables about this out of print classic that is so very great and stuff and what a shame it is that it isn't available to everybody. I investigated further and thought that the game sounded reasonably good, so when I had the chance to acquire a copy of this for a price that I was willing to pay, I did so. Read the rulebook, still thought that it sounded good. Played it. Was severely disappointed. Sold it. Learned not to trust the internet YET AGAIN.

It's not that Endeavor is a bad game in any way, there's a lot to like in this box. There are multiple paths to victory, there's quite a bit of variability baked into the system, I generally like the central mechanisms and the tracks on your player board that you can fiddle around with quite a bit. Basically what you're doing in this game is amassing more and more stuff that improves this or that track and gives you new options and enhances your abilities and by the end, you can pull off cool stuff that you didn't even dream of at the beginning of the game and that's cool and fun and stuff and it's also not one of those games where the fun part is divorced from the efficient part, because while you gather all of these cards and chits and reap their benefits, they also help you with actually winning the game. So if all of this is good, where's the problem?

Well, the problem is the theme. Or rather the lack thereof. As previously mentioned each and every game out there has to abstract certain things in order to remain playable, and while Endeavor has a ton of abstraction on display, truth be told, it isn't any worse an offender in that regard than many other games that I do hold in relatively high esteem. But Endeavor does something so very strange that I can't help but be annoyed by it: It teases theme without delivering on it. Take the slavery cards for example. They give pretty huge benefits but if someone takes the value 5 card from the European deck, slavery is abolished and all slavery-cards are subtracting points for whoever took them. That sounds like a neat little insertion of theme into the game, doesn't it? I've praised stuff like that in the past. But in Endeavor, it completely falls flat, because on the one hand, it is such a unique part of the game, on the other hand, it is so very very trivial. I mean, not in a thematic sense, but in a mechanical. It's something that just happens now and then in a game of Endeavor.

There's other stuff like that in the game that should just feel more weighty than it actually is, like the appointment of a governor, which should be a big deal but just feels succinct in this game. And stuff like that, I find far more aggravating than the absence of theme. These small, thematic elements have all the charm of items on a checklist but at the same time kind of emphasize the dryness and abstraction of everything else in the game. It sounds paradoxical, that by inserting a bit of fluff into the game, the designers have somehow managed to make the game feel even more themeless, so perhaps that's an achievement in itself?

But either way you put it, even though I generally like quite a few things in the game, all of it is wrapped into a package that I absolutely couldn't care about, no matter how hard I tried. And that's not something that you can spin in a positive way, can you?

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Sat Jun 22, 2019 7:00 am
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Germanizing Movies! - Disney Special!

Christian Heckmann
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Mainz
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Haven't done one of those in a while, even though I've been thinking about delving into the world of strange German movie-title-translations now and then. But a few days ago, I stumbled across something that made me go "I need to share this!". And since the movie in question was produced by Disney, I thought to myself "Why not do a themed post? Because Disney do this quite often...". And so here we are. Five (plus a few more) movies produced by the House of Mouse that have suffered a very strange fate when translated to the beautiful German language. Beware!





I wasn't sure whether to save this one up for last or get it over with as quickly as possible. In the end, I decided to do the latter. Yes, this is the one that inspired me to write this post in the first place, "Toy Story 4". What could be so controversial about this? Well, in Germany, not only will the movie be released roughly two months after it has hit pretty much every other market, it'll also enter cinemas under the wieldy title "A Toy Story - Alles hört auf kein Kommando". So they've done away with the four at the end of the title. That's good. I've heard that the movie does veer away quite a bit from what can be considered "the Toy Story trilogy", so marketing this not as the next part but as "A Toy Story" could be sensible. But that subtitle? See, "Alles hört auf mein Kommando" is a popular German dictum that basically means "I'm the boss here" or perhaps more literally "Everyone responds to my command" (plus it's also the German title of the 1985-movie "Volunteers" but that's not important right now). "Alles hört auf kein Kommando" on the other hand means "Everyone responds to no one's command". Does that make any sense? Didn't think so either...





You didn't think that I'd miss out on the opportunity to sneak some Marvel-movies into this, did you? For the most part, Disney didn't even bother to translate the titles for the German market. They did some pretty strange things to the second and third Thor-movies, though, and especially good ol' Cap was hit in the strangest way by the German distributors. For the first movie, everything was fine. Originally, it was "Captain America: The First Avenger" and in Germany, they kept it (even though I distinctly remember that they played up the "The First Avenger"-subtitle far more than the main title of the movie). When the sequel, "Captain America: The Winter Soldier", dropped, they decided to go one step beyond and suddenly, the movie was known simply as "The Return Of The First Avenger" here in Germany (probably to downplay the perceived patriotic nature of Cap himself, because that's something that pretty much always gets a bad rep here in Germany). So I don't know whether I should classify the German title of the third part as stupid or as consistent. Because "Captain America: Civil War" hit German theatres as "The First Avenger: Civil War". Oh, also, that tagline, "Entzweit gehen wir zugrunde" is a very strange translation of "Divided we fall".





"Tangled" is a pretty great movie, if you asked me. Yeah, sure, it has its strange moments, but all in all, I enjoy it a lot. The German title? Not so much. Then again, I can't really blame them. "Tangled" itself is a pretty clever title but one that is hard to translate faithfully to German. So instead, they chose to release the movie under the obvious title "Rapunzel". You know, named after the main character. But what about the subtitle? Oh... yeah, the subtitle. For some reason, Disney started to attach really stupid subtitles to some of their movies somewhere around the time "Tangled" was released. The subtitle, "Neu verföhnt", alludes to the fact that this is a new movie about a pretty old story that has been seen on the big screen before. So in Germany, you'd probably say something like "neu verfilmt", "newly filmed". But on the other hand, the movie is about a girl with really long hair, so... the pun seemed to really write itself. Because you see, the German word for "hairdryer" is "Föhn". So the German title basically is "Rapunzel - Newly hairdried". Get it? GET IT? Oh man...





Back to something less painful. Hey, I thought both of the "National Treasure"-movies were kind of watchable. Nothing that'd set anyone's world ablaze, but good, inoffensive entertainment. Like Captain America, they are pretty... "American", though, so in order to drum up more interest in... y'know, the old world, German distributors decided to do away with the whole "National Treasure"-angle and chose titles that were more suitable for the European market. So "National Treasure" became "Das Vermächtnis der Tempelritter" ("Legacy of the Knights Templar") and "National Treasure 2: Book Of Secrets" became "Das Vermächtnis des geheimen Buchs" ("Legacy of the secret book"... that's pretty much the opposite of the original title, isn't it?). Ah, well, a bit bland perhaps, but they work, I guess.





I already hinted at the strange development of the German titles of the "Pirates Of The Caribbean"-movies back when I talked about the German translation of Merchants & Marauders, but now's the time to fully delve into this topic. Well, kind of. I'm gonna talk about the original trilogy, because covering all five movies would be a bit too much and they've also gotten kind of less weird given time. Okay, let's go. The first one, "Pirates Of The Caribbean: Curse Of The Black Pearl". Faithfully translated, a German version of this (vastly overrated, very mediocre) movie would be called something like "Piraten der Karibik: Der Fluch der Black Pearl". But for some reason, they decided to just shorten the whole thing to "Fluch der Karibik", basically "Curse of the Caribbean". Well okay, I can live with that. But when the second (still not great but certainly better than the first) movie dropped, its original title "Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" (which by any right should have been "Fluch der Karibik: Des toten Manns Kiste") was changed to "Pirates Of The Caribbean: Fluch der Karibik 2". You can probably guess what that means in English. And yeah, it's pretty stupid. So when the third (overburdened but enjoyable in parts) movie came out, they finally decided to go all the way (or probably not a single bit of the way at all, it's kind of hard to decide) and went with "Pirates Of The Caribbean: Am Ende der Welt" for the third entry in the series... So yeah, put them all up side by side and you've got three completely mismatched titles for three movies that are supposed to form a coherent whole. It's... strange indeed.

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Fri Jun 21, 2019 7:00 am
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Ruling above and below

Christian Heckmann
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Mainz
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Huzzah, after gaming in solitude, I've finally been able to play some games in a multiplayer-environment again. Which to be honest wasn't that complicated, since a few days ago, the bi-weekly-Monday-meetup happened, and even though we occasionally joke about splitting up into groups of three and one instead of playing a four-player-game there (if there's a game on the table that supports solo play) that hasn't really happened yet. Anyway, before that took place on Monday, I also paid my ex-roommate S. a visit and we played some stuff.



We hit it off with a little game that just barely missed my personal Top 10 of 2018, Gangster City. After pulling ahead early on (S. picked a few cards that provided him with the hint that two elements matched with the card he was trying to deduce, which is easily the worst thing that can happen) and solving my first card with relative ease, I somehow became absolutely deduction-blind when my second card was concerned. It didn't help that I looked at some of my clue-cards the wrong way (which can really mess you over), so even though I had a pretty impressive head start, S. quickly caught up to me and managed to correctly deduce his second card before I had the chance to do likewise. Then again, he was the starting player, who has a pretty substantial advantage in this game, if you asked me.



Lately I've been thinking about the often used phrase "perfect for what it does" and how absolutely useless it is, because let's face it, a proctoscopy is probably perfect for what it does, but then again, I probably wouldn't recommend it to anyone. But yeah, Gangster City is actually perfect for what it does. It's quick, incredibly intuitive, super-portable and most important of all clever and really fun. Sure, luck of the draw can play a big role in who wins the game, and as said, the starting player seems to have an advantage (it's not completely clear-cut, because people who are further behind in playing order have some additional information that the starting player doesn't have, but it's hard enough to be on top of your own deduction without having to constantly scan the table and take all of the cards that have already been picked into account), but if you're looking for a pocket-sized deduction game that plays quickly, scales well and looks pretty good, check out Gangster City. This is a pretty cool one.



So afterwards, I was like "Hey, we haven't played Xenon Profiteer in a while, perhaps we should do so now". He was okay with that, because for a while directly after getting the game, we played the mess out of it. Sure, that's understandable, it's a great, great game after all. But yeah, it didn't hit the table in a while. So we played with the tactics from the Xenon Profiteer: Tactics & Profiteers Expansion Pack, leaving the profiteers themselves in the box, because I stand by my belief that they are utterly unbalanced. S. went mostly for quantity over quality, building a humongous deck and getting cards that would allow him to distill stuff on a more regular basis (by the end of the game, he could distill everything each and every turn) while I was more picky in regards to what went into my deck. Halfway through the game, I had thinned it to the point where I drew pretty much the same cards each turn. Which wasn't that great, because it meant that distilling stuff didn't really work. But with a bit of hand-management (and a huge portion of luck, because I bought a pipeline way to early, because having an increased hand-size in this game isn't necessarily good for you), I pulled through. Final scores were close, but I had the edge, beating S. by a few points.



Have I ever told you that Xenon Profiteer is a really good game? I probably have. But on Sunday, I myself was a bit surprised to find out, how good it actually still is. It plays quickly, features a lot of crunchy decisions, the combination of deck- and tableau-building works really well and together with the very cool fluctuation of your actual deck-size (because cards come in and go out pretty much all the time) makes for a very unique little game that far too few people seem to have heard of. Seriously, why this one doesn't get more buzz is beyond me, perhaps it's the scientific theme? Then again, people were all over Terraforming Mars for its "scientific accuracy" or whatever (and Xenon Profiteer also looks a lot better than that one, if you asked me), so come on, people. Perhaps then we'd also get another expansion? I mean, the game doesn't necessarily need one, it's fine the way it is, but I wouldn't say no to one...



Okay, onward to Monday. I had packed my bag with Der Herr des Eisgartens, because I love that game and I had vowed to play all of my ten favorite games of all time this year and that was one that hadn't hit the table yet. And to my absolute delight, I found three other players willing to play it. So we had all four factions present (which is good but certainly not a must, the game is very good with three and even with two players) with me taking control of the forces of Passionaria Calo. Not necessarily my favorite faction. If I had to choose, that would probably be Ulrike Freihoff, because the Harassim is absolutely awesome. But what can you do? I summoned my Nightmare during the first turn and equipped it with haste, deciding to go for a "personal victory"-strategy, reputation be damned, and therefore had to do my best to keep Vuko and the Nightmare apart. It worked reasonably well and I also managed to dominate the same region twice in a row, throwing down the two required nightmare-markers before moving on to another region. Sadly, I didn't manage to get a Faun in there, resp. was unable to dominate the thing, because both Van Dyken and Ulrike Freihoff were duking it out in that very region, so in order to dominate it, I would have put so much influence in there that Vuko would certainly show up and his appearance would have caused all of the units to retreat from the region. So I kind of changed gears midway through. Which wasn't that hard, because after the first scoring, I somehow had gotten 29 points already. Looks like someone should have been kept in check better...



Sadly after that point, the tide kind of turned. Freihoff had already built three of her towers and was kind of dominating the map, Van Dyken had gotten his hands on three of the magic reserves, Fjolsfinn was struggling to get people into the Ice Garden, but was catching up as well, plus he was atop the reputation-track and the Dead Snow was closing in. I finally managed to lock the first region but lost the Nightmare in the process (and due to Dead Snow couldn't afford to re-summon it) so I was seriously weakened. At one point, I thought that we would be unable to keep Ulrike Freihoff from constructing her final tower and did something that turned out to be so incredibly stupid that I would have deserved to lose the game. Because we did actually hinder Freihoff enough so that she didn't win outright, but in the process, I had willingly (and unnecessarily) relinquished control of a territory. After the next scoring, I sat at 49 points. I could have crossed the 50 point threshold, hadn't I been that stupid. Anyway, I only needed one more point (which was no problem, I had a unit fit for battle and money to boot) and had to keep all of the other players from winning via their personal goals (which all of them were close to). In the end, the game culminated in a gigantic brawl in the northernmost territory where Van Dyken narrowly beat Freihoff for domination while I grabbed the final point I needed and won the game.



So yeah, it's actually been a while since I've seen a game of Der Herr des Eisgartens turn out that close. All of us had a stab at victory, which is always nice. Yeah, I know, I said once that I'd want to play one of my next games of Der Herr des Eisgartens by ignoring all of the units and just play this El Grande-style. I kind of remembered that intention halfway through this game and was like "Well now it's definitely far too late...". But perhaps I'll do so next time. Which can't be soon enough, if you asked me, because man oh man, is this game great. All of the other players seem to have liked it as well. I wouldn't have thought so halfway through the game, because the Freihoff-player messed up a few things early on and seemed kind of frustrated by that (I mean, it is a deep, complex, punishing game, sure), but by the end, he was like "This might be the best area control game I have ever played". Well, I can't really disagree with that, can I? So yeah, Der Herr des Eisgartens is awesome. You haven't played it yet? What are you doing with your life? Seriously!



The next day, K.'s dad S. dropped by to play some games. Originally K.'s brother had wanted to come as well, but he didn't, so it was just the two of us. Works for me. He had brought New Frontiers because he's a huge fan of Race for the Galaxy and even though importing that game's quasi-sequel-sequel here in Germany is pretty expensive, he had done so a while ago and now the thing had to hit the table, right? I'm not a big fan of Race for the Galaxy, but then again, I have only played it... maybe three times? I liked it but wasn't blown away, so I didn't investigate it any further. I like Roll for the Galaxy better, because dice are always fun. Anyway, I didn't really expect that much from New Frontiers, but truth be told, I hardly knew anything about it going in. And I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the game. It's hard to say that with any kind of certainty after a single game, but this one might be my favorite of all of the games in the Race for the Galaxy-universe. I was never a big fan of the whole "I really hope this phase is gonna be played this turn, but I can't be bothered to trigger it myself"-part of Race for the Galaxy and Roll for the Galaxy as well, so having that removed from New Frontiers and turning the whole thing pretty much into a perfect-information-almost-no-randomness-affair is right up my alley.



I also like the streamlining of the system in regards to the resource-management. Race for the Galaxy's hand-management and Roll for the Galaxy dual dice/money-approach is nice and all, but the focus on money and settlers as the only two things you need to have an eye on is pretty cool. Sure, the game may be less deep for it, but I can deal with that if it means that I don't have to jump through a bunch of hoops in order to buy that technology that I really want. Speaking of technology, that's the path I went down, grabbing enough tiles and planets so that I usually paid two dollars less for each technology I developed and then afterwards got two dollars back, which lead to me going "Why would I ever just take two dollars as my action if I can get a technology for free and then two dollars afterwards?" halfway through the game. In the end, S. beat me by a few points, though, with his military strategy. Ah well, happens to the best of 'em. Bottom line, I really enjoyed my play of New Frontiers (and was impressed that it's such a quick game) and I would certainly be willing to play it again. I don't think I need to have it anytime soon (because as said, it's quite expensive for what it is), but yeah, quite good if you asked me.



And finally, after finishing New Frontiers, I decided to introduce S. to Tyrants of the Underdark. He's also a huge fan of Ascension: Deckbuilding Game, so telling him "Tyrants of the Underdark is basically to Ascension: Deckbuilding Game what Trains is to Dominion", I gained his attention. We choose Drow and Dragons (because they're a pretty good match for a first time player) and took to the Underdark to do some conquering. And unusually for this game, the whole session was promote-tastic. Which is probably owed to the fact that a few Wyrmtellers and Priests of Whatshisface (that's not their real name) showed up quite early and made promoting easy and affordable. So we mostly duked it out with really powerful cards. I felt like I had the edge for most of the game, but then I made a critical mistake leaving S. in total control of Araumycos pretty much unchallenged (I had stationed a spy there but returned it for three cards in the hopes of drawing something that would help me assassinate his troops in the city, but didn't) for far too long. In the end, I decided to end the game instead of prolonging it further, even though I was pretty sure that S. had outpaced me. Turns out, I was right. He won the game with 100 points to my 93. Well, it was closer than I had anticipated.



I still have a strange relationship with Tyrants of the Underdark. It's not the most sophisticated game out there. If it were a movie, it would be a stupid, loud, CGI-ladden summer-blockbuster. But I can't deny its entertainment-value. The card-art is good, I like the theme, pretty much all of the higher-priced cards feel overpowered in one way or another - which in the end probably makes the game fairly balanced - and it's just so quick and easy to play that I can't help but enjoy myself. It's a shame that the first expansions wasn't received that well (then again, it's quite understandable, because the production issues are pretty much inexcusable), because that might have killed the whole game in the long run. And if they had published four, five or even more expansions, there'd probably finally be a reason for the game to come in such a humongous box. So yeah. I like it. I don't really know why, but it's a lot of fun and sometimes, that's enough.

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Thu Jun 20, 2019 7:00 am
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I just learned about... Shaolia: Warring States (plus Mesarthim)

Christian Heckmann
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Mainz
Rheinland Pfalz
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I was a bit torn when it came to the subject of today's article. On the one hand: A pretty nice looking board game that I just recently stumbled upon that is currently on Kickstarter and could probably use the promotion. On the other hand: A band I recently discovered that I am very impressed with, but that is quite niche and therefore not of interest for quite a few people. What to do? Well... why not write an article about the game and then sneak the band in as a little bonus? Brilliant (if I dare say so myself)! So that's what I'm gonna do...



Okay, first the game. Seoul-based publisher Bad Comet is currently drumming up interest (and also some funds to back that interest up) for their first release Shaolia: Warring States, a dueling strategy game for two or four players (with a three-player-mode included as a stretch goal) set on a pseudo-asian fantasy continent called - you guessed it - Shaolia. There's no real fleshed-out story-outline available for the game, for now, all the background you get is pretty much "conflict has broken out and you want to come out on top". You do so by building up a tableau of cards with various abilities (resource-production, attack, defense and more) and use those to demolish your opponent's palace and/or accumulate a certain amount of cultural influence at which point you have won the game. Now, how do you do that? How do you activate those cards? Well, by dice-allocation of course. Hooray!

So yeah, each turn, you have the opportunity to get new cards to add to your tableau, then you're gonna roll a few dice and use them to activate those cards and reap effects that will improve your position in the game. Plus there are character cards which are kept hidden until played which will shake up the formula a bit. Sounds neat. Plus the Kickstarter-page boasts that there are gonna be "6+ different game modes" included in the game. All of this sounds pretty good, right? The game also looks quite nice. The card-backgrounds could be a bit more... lush I guess, but the whole thing has a nice, charming RTS-style look to it.

Any caveats? Sure, this wouldn't be an IJLA-post if I didn't take my time to explicitely point out everything that could go wrong with this game. As always, I wonder how fun and exciting the card-effects will be. Everything I can make out on the Kickstarter-page are variations on the effect of "get this" or "get that", so I wonder whether there will be more interesting things included. This being a primarily card-driven game, having a rather boring selection of card-effects could seriously hamper the game, so finger's crossed that they'll come up with some neat things in that regard. Also you really shouldn't overestimate the differences between the 6+ different game-modes, I guess. Quickly skimming the prototype-rulebooks exposes them as pretty much the same game, but with different card-combinations, starting resources and numbers of culture points necessary to win. Sure, one of them is the four-player-version, so that's different, but I wonder how well this game will play in teams. Like most of those games, it'll probably best with two.

But in general, I'm quite intrigued by the game. As said, it looks pretty nice, supposedly plays quite quickly (30 to 60 minutes) and I'm a sucker for tableau building as well as dice allocation. There's a normal version available, as well as a deluxe-version, including an expansion, upgraded components and some more stretch goals. If you think that all of this sounds intriguing, check out their Kickstarter-campaign here, it runs for another 15 days and the game should be delivered in February of 2020.

And now, for something completely different...



That up there is the cover of "Ghost Condensate", the current album of Australian band Mesarthim. A few months or so ago (might have already been a year, if I remember correctly), I regularly listened to some Youtube-mixes during working hours, and one day, I stumbled across an Atmospheric/Epic Black Metal mix where a pretty interesting Post-Black-Metal-band employing a cosmic/astrophysic image was included. I have no idea what that band's name was but a few days ago, I was like "I wonder if I could find them again" and started to search for "Space Black Metal"-mixes on Youtube. I haven't found that band yet (I can't remember much, only that the vocals were mostly clean and that the band probably wasn't Germ, but apart from that...) but in the process, I stumbled across the aforementioned Mesarthim, which the Encyclopedia Metallum classifies as "Atmospheric Black Metal/Trance". And that's a pretty apt description.

See, I like the concept of Atmospheric Black Metal or Epic Black Metal or however you might want to call this stuff, but I have a huge aversion to folksy stuff and a lot of this kind of music seems to go in that direction. Mesarthim aren't completely free of those influences either, they've covered "Grey Havens" for the Summoning-tribute-album (with predictable results), but their usual fare is far more... well... spacey. Loads of electronica mixed with rather harsh Black Metal in the vein of other Aussie-bands like Austere or Woods Of Desolation. Which is something I like quite a bit.

I've skipped through quite a bit of their stuff on Youtube over the course of the last couple of days and I liked pretty much all of it. The aforementioned "Ghost Condensate" is really good, their really strangely named album ".- -... ... . -. -.-. ." (Morse code for the word "Absence") seems to be quite intriguing as well, but I seem to like their EP "The Great Filter" best of all as of yet. So I pulled the trigger and bought three of their albums, a (pretty ubstantial) EP and one compilation containing two other EPs (including the aforementioned "The Great Filter") and am now waiting for the arrival of all of this new music. This is gonna be great.

If you want to check out Mesarthim as well, they aren't signed to any label and have complete control over their output which means that they're selling digital copies of all of their stuff on a "pay what you want"-basis on their bandcamp-site. Give them a listen, they are really, really good. If you're into that kind of music, I mean.

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Wed Jun 19, 2019 7:00 am
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The advantages of loneliness...

Christian Heckmann
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So in between writing my bachelor thesis (slowly) and playing XCOM 2: War of the Chosen (far too much of it), on Saturday, I decided to try out the solo-modes of some games that a) were new to my shelf, b) I had owned for quite some time but never gotten around to trying out or c) just hadn't played in a while. I actually played three games total, so there was one for each of the three categories. And since it's been a while since I did this, I'll treat this post as another instance of "trying out stuff for MNMS". So here we go...



As previously mentioned, Reykholt intrigued me because I heard that it was an Uwe Rosenberg game for people who liked Nusfjord better than his more popular fare. Which would include me, I guess. So I read the rules, thought that they sounded quite reasonable and decided to try out the solo mode, since it's supposed to be quite good. And I think I'm quite intrigued by it. The dynamic of planting and harvesting stuff is really cool, even though it's kind of hard to wrap your head around it at first, so is the fact that once per tourism-phase, you can instead of paying the stuff you need to advance take whatever's on the table. When do you do that? What do you take? That's not as straightforward as I would have imagined before actually playing. In my first game, I feel short of reaching the fabled "five tomatos"-table, so I was like "I can do better than that" and immediately set it up and tried again. And I failed once more. But I had fun while doing so. It's quick, it looks good, it probably shines with three people because playing solo (and probably also playing with two) means that you have a very small number of spots to put your workers and also that's the number where you get the interesting "Let's share a special power"-space. All in all, I'm pretty pleased with the game altogether. But what about its viability for Monday Night Multiplayer Solitaire?



The verdict: Well, the fact that I've already added Reykholt to the poll yesterday might have spoiled the surprise a bit, but I do think that it's a pretty good fit for MNMS. It's quick, it plays well solo, there's not many variables that I need to predetermine (if I'm not mistaken only the three service cards and the order of the "random"-greenhouses, so that's good)... Scoring the whole thing could be a bit problematic, respectively I think that it could very well be that scores will be very close, but who knows? Perhaps I'm wrong on that account. So yeah, this should work just fine, I think.



After finishing my two games of Reykholt, I was like "Hang on a second, once upon a time, I bought another game by Uwe with containers... and have never played it". So I went down into the basement, found my (still unpunched) copy of Merkator (that had been "for trade" for ages and nobody wanted it), punched it, set it up, read the rulebook back to back two or three times, thought that I had finally understood enough to start the game and did so. And I was pretty impressed by it. I had heard before that it is a rather unusual Rosenberg-game that employs a quasi-pick-up-and-deliver-mechanic but apart from that I knew very little about it (and reading the rulebook didn't ring any bells either, so either I had completely forgotten everything or I had never read the rules before). I liked the game quite a bit, though. It's all about efficiency, in the solitaire-game probably even more so than in the competitive one, because you got exactly 17 turns, nobody's gonna mess you up by going somewhere where you have no business, so you should better make the best of it. I think I did so, because I finished the game with a score of 62.5 points, which according to the rules counts as a "win". I could have probably played a lot better, had I started to grasp the intricacies earlier, but what can you do? Bottom line, this is a quite cool, very strange little game unlike pretty much anything I've played before. I think I'd love to try it out in a two-player-environment, that might be the best way to play it. But solo on MNMS? Hm...



The verdict: Perhaps. I'm not entirely sure yet, but I think it could be done. It'd be kind of effortful to record all of the contract-card-decks (though not much more effortful than some of the other stuff I've done) so that's kind of inconvenient, but apart from that, it's an interesting puzzle of a game and finding out which path other players take given similar circumstances could be pretty interesting. So... yeah, it doesn't necessarily suggest itself as a game for MNMS, but it could be done. Anyone out there who would like to see me tackle that one?



The final game of the night and the one I hadn't played in a while was Imperial Settlers. I had owned and kind of liked 51st State once upon a time but even though there are some neat twists in that one (leaders and the shooting of those for example), the first time I played Imperial Settlers, I was like "Okay, that's a lot better". So since the game is mostly about building up your own tableau to combo the crap out of the system, I was like "That's probably something that can be simulated quite well playing against a dummy player". And I was right. Even though sabotaging the dummy's efforts was quite easy when playing the Romans (and drawing Hadrian's Wall early on). I was never in any real danger of losing the game because the dummy didn't destroy a single building and when the game had ended, I had built a total of 17 cards while the dummy had gathered six. Then again, this isn't necessarily about beating the dummy but about optimizing your score, isn't it? Maybe. Then again, I've learned that scores in Imperial Settlers can fluctuate wildly between one game and the next, so a high score doesn't really mean that much if you asked me. Anyway, I scored a pretty decent 56 points in the end. Which was nice.



The verdict: Well, it'd probably be quite possible to play the game in the MNMS-format. Would it also be worth the effort? I'm not sure. It'd completely eliminate the deck-construction-aspect from the game, but I haven't dabbled in that and don't know how many people do and like to play the game that way (although thinking about it now, it would be kind of interesting, I guess). With all of the expansions and stuff out there, it'd also probably be a bit problematic to accomodate all players out there. And it would be kind of effortful. But it'd work and could also be kind of fun. Once again, I think I should pass on the question. Would anybody be interested in playing Imperial Settlers on Monday Night Multiplayer Solitaire? Because we could do that, sure...

So yeah, I should probably get back to playing games "for fun" instead of "for research" soon. Then again, perhaps I should first finish my bachelor thesis. Yeah, that's a good idea. I'll get right to it. Starting tomorrow or so.

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Tue Jun 18, 2019 7:00 am
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Monday Night Multiplayer Solitaire #32: Master Of Orion: The Board Game

Christian Heckmann
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Today on Monday Night Multiplayer Solitaire, we're gonna go to the stars! Y'know, build a might galactic empire and stuff. In Master of Orion: The Board Game.



Although user mangozine didn't seem to like the game that much, he came up with a pretty good solo-variant that we're gonna use today. You can find it here. We're just gonna change one thing, because I misplayed it on my first try and then after learning about my mistake, I thought that "my" variant felt kind of better. So the dice you roll don't attack you at the beginning of your action phase but at the end and only if you haven't beaten them by that point. Also in rounds 7 and 8, all of the dice increase by two, not only the highest two (which shouldn't really matter to you, because I'm gonna give you the numbers without any context). So for convenience's sake, I decided that we're all gonna play humans and I'm gonna give you the order of cards, as well as the advisors present in the game and the numbers rolled on the attack dice at the beginning of each turn. That should be enough to get you through the game. You ready? Okay, here we go...

Setup:



Advisors:

Harrava
Fulcrum Sandebar
Kuruk
Vale The Whisperer
Viktoriya

Starting cards:

Autolab
Biosphere
Orbital Shipyard
Recyclotron
Space Port

Attack strengths on turn 1:

2 3 8

Attack strengths on turn 2:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
1 8 9


Attack strengths on turn 3:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
4 4 8


Attack strengths on turn 4:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
2 7 8 9


Attack strengths on turn 5:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
2 6 9 10


Attack strengths on turn 6:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
4 5 6 8


Attack strengths on turn 7:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
4 7 9 10 10


Attack strengths on turn 8:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
4 5 7 9 10


Order of cards:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Government Support Facility

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Trade Goods

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Galactic Currency Exchange

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Galactic Cybernet

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Planetary Stock Exchange

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Space Elevator

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Matter Converter

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Neutron Collider

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Cruiser

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Doom Star

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Colony Ship

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Holo Simulator

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Fighter Garrison

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Battle Station

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Star Fortress

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Jump Gate

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Space Elevator

Spoiler (click to reveal)
High Orbit Sonar

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Artemis System Net

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Galactic Council

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Colonial Revenue Service

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Trade Goods

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Neutron Collider

Spoiler (click to reveal)
High Orbit Sonar

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Deep Core Mine

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Frigate

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Planetary Stock Exchange

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Planetary Super Computer

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Holo Simulator

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Frigate

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Communication Satellite

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Cloning Center

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Alien Management Center

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Weather Controller

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Cloning Center

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Orbital Shipyard

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Government Support Facility

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Civil Transport

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Galactic Cybernet

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Astro University

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Soil Enrichment Facility

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Interplanetary Administration

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Cruiser

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Biospheres

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Colonial Revenue Service

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Star Fortress

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Pleasure Dome

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Planetary Supercomputer

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Fighter Garrison

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Deep Core Mine

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Communications Satellite

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Colony Ship

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Autolab

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Pleasure Dome

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Battle Station

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Astro University

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Galactic News Network

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Advanced Data Center

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Space Port

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Recyclotron

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Artemis System Net

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Advanced Data Center

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Doom Star

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Soil Enrichment Facility

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Space Academy

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Civil Transport

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Interplanetary Administration

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Alien Management Center

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Weather Controller


Final score:

Spoiler (click to reveal)


54 points


After-game discussion:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
I was a bit torn early on, whether to get Harrava or Viktoriya. I mean, Harrava is great and all, but I really needed to attack at least once per turn with her and if the dice didn't come up my way, that would have been a problem. Luckily, they did. And since I got a Planteray Stock Exchange early on, I could get over not having picked Viktoriya quite easily. I made some stupid mistakes along the way, for example not building the Galactic Council but exploiting it for cards wasn't that clever, also I could have gotten my food-production off the ground way earlier, but at the end of the day, 54 points ain't half bad.


Also if you're more into videos, here's one of me playing thie challenge. Have fun. But be warned, it's a bit... longer.



Alright, next week we're gonna play Die Tavernen im Tiefen Thal. That's gonna be great. So let's find out what to play the week after... Here's the poll.

Poll
Which game should be played in two weeks' time on Monday Night Multiplayer Solitaire?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
Can't Stop Express
16.7% 4
Cucina Curiosa
4.2% 1
Penny Papers Adventures: The Temple of Apikhabou
12.5% 3
Penny Papers Adventures: The Valley of Wiraqocha
0.0% 0
Reykholt
66.7% 16
Voters 24
This poll is now closed.   24 answers
Poll created by Harblnger
Closes: Sat Jun 22, 2019 6:00 am


Okay, like always, thanks for reading, watching, playing, thumbing and voting. See you soon!

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Mon Jun 17, 2019 7:00 pm
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The expansiocalypse is upon us!

Christian Heckmann
Germany
Mainz
Rheinland Pfalz
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GLS is kind of unreliable. Two days in a row, I got messages saying something to the effect of "Your package will arrive between 8.30 and 11.45 AM" and both times, the delivery-guy showed up somewhere around 2.30 PM or so. And by that time, I wasn't at home, because I've got stuff to do. Anyway, a few days ago, I managed to pick up both of those packages and found some interesting stuff inside, so I thought that now would be a good time to do one of these roundups again...



So first of all, I finally managed to trade for a copy of Uwe Rosenberg's Reykholt and yes, I know, I've dunked on Mr. Rosenberg quite a few times over the course of my career as an internet-blogger, but the fact is, I do like some of his games, including his previous offering Nusfjord. And since I heard multiple times that Reykholt is rather light fare that could appeal to people who liked the Nussy, I thought that it might be right up my alley. It looks pretty good and seems to be a rather short, breezy, easy to play little game so I'm quite interested in checking it out sooner rather than later.

Okay, onward to the main reasons for this post. First of all, the pack of expansions for The 7th Continent arrived. I decided to get all of the stuff that I had missed out on during the first campaign, so not only did I receive The 7th Continent: What Goes Up, Must Come Down and the replacement-stuff for the original game, but also The 7th Continent: Facing the Elements, The 7th Continent: Fear the Devourers, The 7th Continent: The Flying Roots, The 7th Continent: Path of Repentance and The 7th Continent: Comfort Creatures. I haven't started to sort all of the stuff, I still haven't finished a single curse so it's not like I really need all of that stuff right now, but... perhaps I should continue my current playthrough at some point, because the game is too good to let it gather dust on the shelf, I guess...

And then, there's my pledge-rewards for Okko Chronicles: Cycle of Water – Quest into Darkness. I actually don't consider myself a real fan of Okko. Sure, I read the first three comics (they are drawn quite nicely and stuff, but the story and characters are pretty mundane if you asked me) and own the older game from Hazgaard (and do like it... kind of), so pledging for this was more a case of brand-recognition than anything else, I guess. That's probably why I didn't go all in on this stuff, but only chose the Samurai-pledge-level. Which comes with quite a bit of additional content. Besides the base-game, there's three expansions (Okko's Chronicles: The Cycle of Water – Quest into Darkness: The Monastery of the Silver Plum Tree, Okko's Chronicles: The Cycle of Water – Quest into Darkness: Heroes of the People, The Palace Of Puppets and an additional Bunraku - there's no database-entries for those two yet). I'm... cautiously optimistic about this one. I mean, it looks like it's not completely focused on combat, which could be nice, I guess. And it doesn't seem to be a campaign-only-game so perhaps it's one that I can get to the table more easily than let's say The World of SMOG: Rise of Moloch. Well, only one way to find out...

And then, I bought some more music once again. Here's my recent acquisitions in that regard.



I do own Insomnium's first four albums and like them quite a bit, but for some reason, I kind of forgot to check out everything they made afterwards. So since their latest album, "Winter's Gate", was on sale at Amazon, I decided to get it. And was surprised to notice that it's one epic fourty minute song. My ripping-program (Asunder) was kind of confused as well, because it asked me stuff like "So is this Edge Of Sanity's 'Crimson'?"... Anyway, haven't listened to it yet but put it on my phone, so I might give it a spin soon.

A friend of mine, who is (was?) a big fan of Parkway Drive told me that their 2018-release "Reverence" is one of the worst albums he ever had the displeasure to listen to. Then again, he didn't like the previous album, "Ire", very much and I think that that's an absolutely brilliant piece of music. I was never a huge fan of Metalcore, there's some stuff in that genre that I like (Killswitch Engage, some stuff by Shadows Fall... probably something else as well) but in general, the further Parkway Drive distanced themselves from their roots, the more did I like their music. I have no idea how the stuff on "Reverence" could be classified, but there isn't much Metalcore left in there. Might this be what people commonly classify as "Groove Metal" or something like that? Dunno, all I know is, I like it.

And then there's Xanthochroid's second album, "Of Erthe And Axen Act I", which was recommended to me by an acquaintance. I gave it a listen on Youtube and thought that it sounded interesting. People online compared it to older albums by Dimmu Borgir and/or Emperor and I can see where the comparisons come from. I also hear some parts that remind me of Opeth and of course a lot of folky influences, which usually isn't something I'm that keen on. All in all, for all its lofty ambitions, I feel like the whole thing could have been a bit more grounded, but there's parts here and there that I like. Who knows, maybe it'll grow on me over time. But please, guys, stop calling your music "Cinematic Black Metal". That's just stupid.

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Sun Jun 16, 2019 7:00 am
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