The Tyranny of Small Decisions

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I'm Blooging

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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There’s a point where you realise that you keep making the same, seemingly-stupid mistake in typing a web site address.

“booardgamegeek. boaordgamegeek. Hey… wait a minute… didn’t that happen yesterday too? And the day before. Am I losing the fundamental ability to type here, or does it mean…”

Alas, after 3 years of pounding this nonsense out to you day after day, it would appear that my poor, much-abused laptop keyboard has developed a fault. Well… more specifically… the “O” key now has a tendency to double-register. In a somewhat annoying doesn’t-do-it-every-time sort of way, and sometimes … if I’m typing particularly quickly … I can even manage to get another letter in before the second “o” appears.

The sudden need for continual correction of my typing is… as you would expect… a right pain in the arse.

From gallery of MrShep


Alas, popping the keycap off (definitely not POOPING the keycap off!!) has revealed nothing obviously mechanically wrong or gummed-up beneath. It’s a butterfly keyboard … a super-thin keyboard mechanism which was once hailed as being a revolutionary breakthrough in keyboard design … right up until the point where it was discovered that it wasn’t, actually, a particularly revolutionary breakthrough in keyboard design, because it has an appallingly high failure rate, and they don’t make them like this any more. On the bright side… that stupidly-high failure rate means that apple will replace/repair them for free. On the downside … I’ll have to schlep over to an apple store, and likely be without the laptop for at least 24 hours. Given the fact that UK shops are opening for the first time in months from tomorrow (or “toomorrow” as my poor, broken computer has just helpfully interjected), and will likely be crazy-busy …and the fact that I haven’t had my nanobots injected for quite long enough to give me baseline plague immunity yet … I’ll probably just struggle on with the dodgy keyboard for a bit longer. So please forgive any extraneous vowels which slip through over the next week or two.

“Customer Service” has, however, been a bit of a reoccurring theme for me this week, with not one, but TWO replacement game parts turning up in the post.

You might recall that a couple of weeks ago I bemoaned the mangled envelope that my Button Shy board game of the month package arrived in. Well… that very same day (coincidence, I’m sure) I got a despatch note from Button Shy for a replacement, which has now arrived. I’m glad I made a fuss; the enclosed 9-card mini game — The Forest Watch — (which was missing from my original package) is way more interesting that I expected.

From gallery of MrShep


At first glance (lots of fantasy-trope-anthropomorphised cats and mice with visible hitpoint tracks) you’d be forgiven for assuming that this is going to be a typical dice-chucking push-your-luck fantasy skirmish affair. But — mechanically — it’s actually a very clever, open information, zero-randomness solo logic puzzle. Each turn you move one of your little mousy heroes into the semi-circle of feline protagonists, and then resolve a bunch of card interactions based on that little half-clock-dial of icons and numbers depicted at the top of each card. It’s an interesting puzzler. Not one that I’d come back to again and again … but definitely worth a few plays. The game started its journey as an entry to a BGG 9-card print and play contest here on BGG, and the 1-page card sheet is still available to download, if you have nothing better to do this afternoon

And secondly… my Kingdom Death Spidicules saga came to a close! You might recall me mentioning that my Spidicules expansion came with a missing sprue (I had too many spider legs, and not enough survivor parts). Well, despite the fact that there was an 18 month gap between me buying this expansion, and actually noticing that something was missing from the box, KDM’s support operation sprang into action and sent out replacement parts.

By DHL express.

I’ve got no idea how expensive DHL express is vs regular air-mail … but, the replacement package was on my doorstep — New York to deepest darkest Northumberland — within a couple of days. Wow!

From gallery of MrShep


At which point I would have been shouting the praises of KDM support from the rooftops … except… they sent me the wrong part. More spider legs! I mean, it wasn’t my fault that they shipped the wrong bit — I was very clear in my explanation of what was missing — but it did feel a little bit awkward, after the excellent response to the first replacement request, to go back again and ask for more.

it’s probably karma that the second replacement part (not sent through DHL express this time… but you can kind of forgive them for that) got caught up in some covid-related shipping issue and took nearly a month to get through the US postal system. However, last weeek (weeek? … you know what? I think my “e” key might be playing up now too!!) the package finally made it through. And it turns out that they simply shipped me a full silk armour kit this time, rather than the specific sprue that was missing (RRP: $40). I’ll definitely not complain about that. So… yeah … awesome customer service there. Good stuff!

From gallery of MrShep
Lovingly wrapped in Kingdom Death tissue paper!


Oh… the pink dice? A purchase which arrived the same day, in a separate box, shipped in the same consignment by pure co-incidence. Which reminds me… I still owe you a post on my KDM dice-collecting obsession, don’t I?

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Today 12:13 pm
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Roamin' around...

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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Easter weekend … a couple of days off work, and — since the “Stay at Home” lockdown restrictions were lifted this week — a good opportunity to go on a bit of an adventure. Though nothing too ambitious; too much sunlight after all this time in the bunker might be a bit of a shock to the system. Best to take things by stages, right?

Living close to the course of Hadrian’s Wall, there’s no shortage of ancient Roman remains to be found hereabouts. In fact, they’re so abundant that you’d be surprised where they crop up. A few weeks ago, Mrs Shep saw at TV show where they were digging up some back gardens in a suburb of Newcastle upon Tyne in search of roman remains … which drew our attention to a couple of not-too-far-away ruins which we haven’t seen before. So yesterday seemed like a good opportunity to go and take a look.

The temple of Antenociticus is a bit of an odd thing to find in a tiny gap of land on a 1930s housing estate. And yet… there it is...

From gallery of MrShep


Antenoociticus isn’t a Roman deity that you’re likely to have heard of before; only a single temple to Antenociticus has ever been discovered, and this it it. Apparently he was worshipped by the locals long before the Romans turned up, but the invading army decided to adopt him as their own — a practice not uncommon in such circumstances. I guess they wanted to keep on the best side of any indigenous deities… just as a precaution. And it seems to have worked out well for them; one of the inscriptions on the shrine is apparently a note from a person of some importance, thanking Antenociticus for helping him out with a significant governmental promotion.

A couple of streets away is another bit of Roman ruin; a gateway and crossing point for the vallum — a huge defensive ditch, marking the perimeter of the military zone south of Hadrian’s wall. Sadly, this one was in a locked enclosure … to stop the local kids from playing on a site-of-historic-importance, I guess … but there was a decent view over the railings.

From gallery of MrShep


Returning home after all of this ancient-roman excitement, there was only one obvious thing to play, right?

Concordia … on our newly-acquired (and as-threatened-last-week) Britannia map!

From gallery of MrShep


Another surprisingly non-confrontational game (even on the more confined map) … I got an early Minerva card for tools, and promptly set about plundering my way through the tool-providing midlands and south wales …(what?!) …while Mrs Shep shot off along the east coast, pursuing entirely different goals. Still a bit of a points gap and a few take-backs as Mrs Shep gets to grips with the finer points of the game … but she likes this one, and is keen to get better. Further plays may be in store

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Sat Apr 3, 2021 7:10 am
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A few small boxes sneak in...

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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A few new game things have arrived this week; that copy of Kingdomino that I mentioned a couple of days ago … along with some reduced-price copies of 5211 and Piepmatz. The latter two caught my eye whilst browsing the “biggest price reductions” listings at boardgameprices.co.uk on an otherwise-dull Sunday afternoon. They were both on sale at Chaos Cards; initially I was drawn in by the promise of 5211 for less than a fiver … but since they also had Piepmatz for close-to-half-the-regular-RRP, I thought I might spring for a copy of that too. Learning new card games — I have discovered over the years — is usually a far easier sell to Mrs Shep than learning new board games

From gallery of MrShep


I played Owain’s copy of Piepmatz a few years ago … and mostly remembered it to be a bit of a quirky set collection game, with gorgeously-illustrated cards. Not something that I felt a desperate urge to rush out and buy my own copy of… but… a decent game, all the same. Circumstances are different now. The best games to own are always the games that’ll actually get played. My main gaming partner right now (in fact, my only face-to-face gaming partner right now) is Mrs Shep… and this seemed like something which would really appeal to her. Plus… it fills a (small-but-perfectly-formed) gap in my Lookout Games collection.

Sure enough… a mere glimpse of the box (“oh! that looks nice… is it new?”) was enough to lure Mrs Shep into an initial game on Wednesday night. And then she demanded a follow-up game the next night “just to cement the rules”… So it seems to have made a good first impression with her

From gallery of MrShep


For my own part… I’m still not sure. Design-wise, Piepmatz is cute. “Cute” in the sense that the card flow — the way that the birds jostle for position at the feeders, the way that the column of nut cards falls as each one is taken — really does feel like an interpretation of the bustle and activity you see around a real-life bird feeder. But the thing I’m still struggling with — after a few plays now — is seeing the causes, and effects, and the levers that I need to pull to get a particular bird-of-interest out of the draw pile, through my hand, into the bird feeder queue, and then back into my scoring pile. Maybe that’ll come clearer with a few more games … (or maybe I should accept that it’s more about tactics than strategy) … but, so far, it has kind of lacked that “everything-suddenly-clicks-into-place” moment that you normally get, just a few hands into learning a good card game.

From gallery of MrShep


Our first experience of 5211, on the other hand, had those “oh! I see. OH! that IS clever!!” interactions in spades.

There is no attempt at theming here… just cards, with colours, irrelevant abstract artwork, and numbers. The name of the game — which seems a bit odd until the reason behind it clicks — actually encapsulates the rules: you have a 5 card hand, you take a turn where you play 2 cards, then a turn where you play 1 card, another turn where you play 1 card …and then you score the round. I won’t go into the fine details of scoring here … it’s a bit quirky, but nothing too difficult to grasp after a couple of turns … and with lots of scope for you to sabotage your opponent’s plans with suitable counter-play if you successfully anticipate what they’re trying to achieve before the round comes to a close.

Players select — and then reveal — their cards simultaneously … so it’s got that appealing, rapid-fire 6 Nimmt! vibe to it; that thing where you think you know how the round is going to play out, and you’ve convinced yourself that you’ve got points in the bag this time… only to see the cards flipped and realise that your plans have been torpedoed by that ONE POSSIBILITY THAT YOU DIDN’T SEE COMING.

We’ve only had one session so far… which isn’t nearly enough experience of the game to decide how much of this is down to luck vs skill -- so please take this as a strictly-first-impressions piece … but discussing the game afterwards, we both had the impression that there was something clever going on with 5211, and that it felt like a “proper” card game. It’s one that I can imagine getting played a fair bit … and I’m very curious to see how it scales; I can already sense that the 2-player experience is maybe a little bit more blocky / prone to zero-point rounds than the game might be at higher counts … it’ll be interesting to see how that changes.

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Sun Mar 28, 2021 11:23 am
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The Mangled Envelope of the Month Club

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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It’s been a while since I did a show-and-tell on one of the Button Shy board-game-of-the-month-club packages, hasn’t it? Truth is, I’ve been sitting on a couple of those posts for a while… but when January’s envelope turned up, it looked like this:

From gallery of MrShep

(minus the pixellation, obviously!)

From gallery of MrShep

This doesn’t bode well…

Examining the contents revealed that the end of the original envelope had been slit open… and NOT in a particularly rough-handled / machine-damage-looking kind of way; it was almost as if somebody had sliced the end off with a proper envelope opener!

From gallery of MrShep


Some of the contents were still present and relatively un-mangled… though the Personal Space board is definitely looking a bit worse for wear. And January’s mini game — “The Forest Watch” — was completely missing … which is a shame, as it seemed to be the most interesting bit of the package

From gallery of MrShep


A query to Button Shy support brought a promise of replacements, so I thought I might hold off on the blog post until they arrived. But… it’s been a few weeks… and if I don’t post this now, then I’ll probably only get distracted and forget all about it

Because while I was waiting… February turned up!

From gallery of MrShep


...In a much better state than January’s package did (hooray!)… though, to be brutally honest... content-wise, it doesn’t massively excite me. My interest in SpaceShipped has kind of waned now, and I don’t own a copy of Arcane Bakery Clash (yet!) … so both of those mini-expansions are probably going to be filed away for now, rather than played

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This month marks the anniversary of my BGOTM subscription… and I’m kind of thinking about knocking it on the head at this point. There's been a few really nice-to-have things enclosed over the course of the last year (Skulls of Sedlec expansions & Sprawlopolis Interstate being particular highlights), and Personal Space was a really interesting thing to watch unfold ... but it’s definitely a mixed bag, and February marks the last instalments of the collectable titles (Personal Space and Trolling for Trouble), so it seems like a natural jumping-off point. That said… I totally failed to change my Patreon sub before the March packages went out … so I guess I’ll at least get a look at the collectable/play-by-instalment game for 2021 (“The Final Light-Year”) before I make up my mind for sure...

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Thu Mar 25, 2021 7:10 am
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Cake Day

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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From gallery of MrShep


Another successful orbit around the sun! … though, I have to state: my 51st year on the planet was most definitely not one of the better ones. Here’s hoping that things improve quite significantly for the 52nd.

A glance back at a blog post from this-time-last-year reminds me that I spent the afternoon playing a newly-received board game (Alubari), followed by a visit to a restaurant, and then a quick dash to a packed theatre to watch some comedy.

Yeah. I know. Crazy times!!!

This year… well, the restaurant and comedy aspects will be replaced by watching streamed live comedy on my living room sofa, while trying to consume my body weight in supermarket party food and drinking beer bought off the internet. Which isn’t quite the same. But the gaming? Well… Kayenta Games very kindly timed the export of their much-anticipated European consignment of Obsession (2nd edition) to arrive just in time for a birthday afternoon play…

From gallery of MrShep


So that’s what we’ll be doing. A little bit of birthday normality in an otherwise-strange year. Good ol’ boardgames… they don’t let you down!

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Sat Mar 6, 2021 11:02 am
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Ornamental Import

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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My copy of Import/Export Definitive Edition arrived yesterday … which marks a bit of a turning point in recent game acquisition; I backed this in the summer of 2019, and it’s the last* Kickstarter thing that I'd backed-but-hadn’t-had-delivered before the world changed. Which means that from this point forward… if a Kickstarter game arrives which goes directly onto the shelf-of-opportunity because it’s not a good fit for playing 2p vs Mrs Shep … well… I only have myself to blame now, don’t I?

From gallery of MrShep


It’s a really nicely produced version of the game. Even the box — which comes decorated (and textured!) to resemble a shipping container — comes in a whole raft of different versions. 47 possible country flags, and 5 differently-coloured crates… all randomly mixed, matched, and distributed blindly — you didn’t get a choice of box colour or flag. Though, appropriately enough, I happened to get the flag for the country where I live … and the blue crate is — apparently — very slightly rarer than all of the other colours, due to a batch of blue boxes getting bashed up during transit to the US distribution hub. So I can hardly complain about the particular 1-in-235 version that I’ve ended up with, can I?

From gallery of MrShep


The box is crammed with (pleasingly-weighty!) metal components, all of the expansions (with some really nice divider tabs included), and cards. Lots of cards. Most of which incorporate a spot-UV texturing effect in their artwork, which I’m trying (and largely failing) to demonstrate in this picture:

From gallery of MrShep


You don’t often see varnish used like this; it certainly makes the cards seem like they’re a bit of a cut above the norm (despite the minimalist artwork), and adds a very subtle-but-unusual tactile quality to them. I like it.

And while I’m waving cards around…

From gallery of MrShep


…well… it wouldn’t be a 2020-produced edition without these, would it?

So yeah… it looks great. The only downside is… I’m not at all sure when I’ll get to play it. Mrs Shep is a bit reluctant to learn new games at the moment, and I doubt she’ll remember very much about Glory to Rome (which Import/Export borrows from very heavily indeed) at all, so there’s no easy route in there. Plus, I kind of want to save my twisting-Mrs-Shep’s-Arm-To-Learn-Something-New credit for the arrival of Obsession — hopefully within a few weeks time -- which I expect will be more her kind of thing anyway. Which leaves me with the feeling that this one might be doomed to sit on the shelf-of-opportunity for a little while yet

Oh well. One thing’s for sure; it’ll look very pretty doing so!

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*Technically, I still have some stuff to connected with the 2016 Kingdom Death Monster Kickstarter to be fulfilled. But I’m pretty confident that the pandemic will have been over for a few years by the time that stuff turns up…
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Tue Feb 23, 2021 7:10 am
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Saturday afternoon: Terror, gaming, and toilet troubles!

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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”If you want to play any games this afternoon, then you’d better move that THING off the table before I go in the room.”

“What… this?”


From gallery of MrShep


I suspect that Spidicules might present a bit of a long-term storage problem. It turns out that the cupboard space which I had earmarked for it isn’t quite big enough. And it’s something of a delicate piece, with all those spindly legs. Still… I’m sure I’ll think of something. Eventually.

Still, I managed to find a temporary hiding place for the offending beastie, and games were played! Starting with a couple of games of Nova Luna … one of last year’s favourite discoveries which, rather pleasingly, still isn’t wearing thin.

From gallery of MrShep


Either I did uncharacteristically well this time, or Mrs Shep played uncharacteristically badly… because she’s usually a bit better than me at this one, but it turned out to be a pretty safe victory for me in both of the games that we played. (Perhaps she was distracted by thoughts of where Spidicules might be lurking in the room?)

And then: something very silly. The inevitable consequence of me reading the comments on last weekend’s blog post, late at night, after a few drinks… and then flipping over to amazon and seeing a lone copy of NichtLustig: Fäkalini for only £3.50, delivery included.

From gallery of MrShep


It’s a simple push-your-luck dice game, in which The Great Fäkalini — renowned plumber and master magician — is challenged to unblock a toilet.

While performing magic tricks.

Obviously.

From gallery of MrShep


Rabbits, Tigers, and time travelling ducks can all be pulled from said water closet by a skilled magician! Or, a somewhat-less-skilled magician might pull out one of these:

From gallery of MrShep


…which caused me to lose the game. Oops.

What can I say? Fäkalini isn’t a bad game …as fast-and-silly ultra-lightweight dice games go. But I think it’s probably going to be one that’s best played under the exact same circumstances in which I bought it:

Late at night, and after a few drinks

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Sun Feb 21, 2021 11:15 am
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The Forgotten

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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It was a good weekend for unexpected arrivals. OK… perhaps not entirely unexpected arrivals … since somewhere in the dim and distant past, I did actually hand over payment for all of this stuff, and with at least two of the items there’s been a not-inconsiderable amount of frustration around the delay / lack of communication from the publishers as to what had happened to the goods-in-transit. But they’re here now. And since I have nothing better to blog about this morning, I thought I’d do a mini haul-shot & roundup of these recent acquisitions.

From gallery of MrShep


Age of Steam: “fixed” deluxe edition maps the and Heavy Cardboard / Detroit Bankruptcy set.

Ordered in happier, pre-covid times … (i.e. February last year), promised to arrive in autumn, and then it completely fell off the radar with zero communication from Eagle Gryphon since their last kickstarter update in… August? (Hmmm… I seem to remember that their fulfilment of the base game didn’t exactly fill me with joy either). Still, it’s here now. Though — since all my AoS play is likely to remain virtual for the foreseeable future — I guess these particular items are going to go onto the shelf of opportunity for the time being. Booo!

Kingdom Death Monster: Ringtail Vixen and White Speaker Sword Hunter.

As somebody who is principally into Kingdom Death Monster for the game aspect rather than the miniature-collecting aspect, the small white box expansions have never been massively attractive to me. You generally get a single figure, and only a few cards of promo-style game content in each box … for $25 a pop. Which seems VERY expensive to anybody who is outside of the boutique-miniature-figure-painting hobby (though I’m assured that this is pretty much the going rate by those who are into that kind of thing). Anyway, these two boxes appeared at half price amongst a heap of other stuff in the Black Friday sale … and they have sufficiently interesting game content associated with them to prompt me to grab them at that price.

The miniatures do lean somewhat towards the scantily-clad-anime-girl-cliche end of the Kingdom Death art spectrum (which is actually a LOT less prevalent in the “game” side of Kingdom Death than its detractors would have you believe). But… meh… I’m still looking forward to getting this stuff into a campaign. Probably very soon after The Watcher completely destroys The Tyranny of Small Lanterns during my next gaming session and I’m forced to start from scratch

…But yeah, I DID say these were bought in the Black Friday sale, didn’t I? Which was in… November? Allegedly they got stuck in a shipping container at the bottom of an ever-enlarging mountain of shipping containers. Which is apparently a thing with logistics these days, and would … y’know… would be perfectly understandable, with the world being the way it is. But it took the Kingdom Death folks a couple of months to actually tell customers that this was the case. Which wasn’t great.

And finally…

The Spring 2021 issue of Senet Magazine.

Which wasn’t delayed at all. (Quite the opposite in fact, since I’m not entirely convinced that it’s spring already!) … haven’t had a proper look yet, or even much of a peek inside ..I’m saving it for a lazy afternoon, a comfy chair, and a big mug of coffee. Definitely something to look forward to

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Mon Feb 15, 2021 1:36 pm
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Euphoriaphobiacopia

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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I’m always a little bit let down when a significant focus of an expansion turns out to be a change to player count. “Adds the components for a 5th player!”. Bleagh.

OK… I can see how that might appeal to folks who regularly play with a rock-solid group of 5… and maybe there are instances of games where the designer’s intended player limit was squished by a publisher who wanted to dial back on the number of components in the box. But I tend to think — perhaps wrongly — that the initial release of a game has a player count dictated by a long, well-thought-out design and development process …and that later adjustments to this figure tend to either be lazily implemented, or awkwardly implemented. Often both. And rarely work out as well as they should.

A bit odd then, to find myself acquiring an expansion specifically due to the effect that it has on the player count of a game. (And perhaps even odder that it’s an expansion for a game that’s been sitting on my “things that I might dump into a bring and buy sale” list for a couple of years).

Ignorance is Bliss - an Expansion for Euphoria.

Board Game: Euphoria: Ignorance Is Bliss



OK… maybe I was a tiny bit misleading in that intro. Yes, this expansion changes the player count … but the direction is downward, rather than upward. Ignorance is Bliss is an expansion which introduces a solo option for the base game. And that, truth be told, is pretty much what drew me in. (OK… one of two things that drew me in… we’ll get to the second one in a moment). Euphoria is a game that has been sitting on my shelf for quite a few years now, but which has been woefully underplayed. For reasons that I’m not entirely sure of, quite a few of my regular gaming group are a bit Stonemaier-averse. They take a lot of coaxing to play anything from the Jamey Stegmaier stable (even the likes of Scythe and Wingspan*!). And one of the group played Euphoria with some other folks at the Newcastle club quite soon after its initial release, had a really bad experience, declared it broken, and has refused to play it ever since. This hasn’t helped the case for getting my copy to the table. But I still had a hankering to explore it a little bit more, before moving it on … and a solo option / current gaming conditions kind of seemed attractive from that sense.

Reason 2: It’s a thinly-veiled, post-release patch which apparently makes the game a lot better. (If memory serves me right… that effectively makes this version 3 of the game? — I’m pretty sure that some rebalancing shenanigans went on in a post-release reprint??).

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So… what’s changed?

The “mining” tracks get stickers, showing different starting positions for different player counts — bringing some much-needed scaling to the pace of the game at lower player counts…

From gallery of MrShep


The blind-drawing of artefact cards has been removed, and replaced with a tried-and-tested euro-favourite mechanism: “conveyor-belt-with-progessively-decreasing-prices”…

From gallery of MrShep


The rule which gave players repeat worker-placements for rolling duplicate numbers has been massively nerfed (you now have to pay morale points whenever you use this ability … so you’re not getting a completely random, non-penalised boost any more), players who end up connected to a minority faction at the start of the game get resources to compensate (theoretically countering imbalanced activity on allegiance tracks), and you’re now allowed to place a star onto an already-constructed market space via the market itself, instead of needing to use the corresponding artefact market action (which — thinking about it — was the main criticism of the guy that I mentioned earlier who declared the original game broken… maybe he was on to something after all?).

Those are some pretty significant non-component-based rule changes, right there.

Plus… the expansion completely replaces all the recruit cards and building tiles of the base game with completely new ones. You could — very fairly — say that those aren’t specifically a game fix, and it’s common for expansions to provide bulk-switchable alternatives to base game content. But … I have a sneaking suspicion that the cards and tiles that come in the expansion are going to have significantly more robust interactions than those that came with the original game.

So… yeah… this seems an awful lot like a box full of fixes to me

Also in the box…

Some RIDICULOUSLY big resource tokens, each representing 5 smaller items (though probably taking up more wood than those 5 individual items did!)… so that you don’t have to use the resource multiplier tracks from the base game:

From gallery of MrShep
How d'ya like THEM Oranges?


…plus some individual player mats with designated places to put all your stuff (Because… well… everybody loves a player mat, right?) … and Automa cards to power the aforementioned solo mode. All of which I would’ve had in my final photo, except that it came out spectacularly blurry, so there is no final photo. Sorry about that!

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So how does it play solo?

Pretty well, actually. The solo opponent (or rather, opponents … you play against two simulated players at once) is a bit of a re-tooling of the automa system used in Gaia Projecta solo system that I’ve played with before and was rather impressed by. The exact actions that’ll be taken by the automated players each turn is determined by jigsawing two cards together … one of which is held over from the previous turn, and one of which you’ll carry forward to the next turn … meaning that you always have partial visibility of what that automa(s) will do next — which faction they may be about the interact with, and what spaces might be about to get blocked — but you’ll never know for sure until the adjoining card is revealed. It’s a neat approach, and sort of simulates the way that you would read a human opponents intentions to determine which actions you should prioritise yourself.

Of course, the automa doesn’t really follow the same rules as the human player does, doesn’t need to spend resources, can build in places that you can’t, and does all the usual automa nonsense … but the way it interacts with the board (and places stars) DOES provide you — the human player — with a far more interesting solo challenge than a simple “play X rounds and try to beat Y points” challenge … and gives you a way to play Euphoria if all your board gaming chums are a bit Euphoriaphobic

I had fun with this; it took a little while to get into the groove with the automa algorithm, but once it all finally clicked (with much flipping between rule books — it’s a long time since I’ve played ANY Euphoria, never mind solo Euphoria!) the game progressed very smoothly. The changes/fixes introduced by the expansion seem to improve the core game quite significantly — especially the artefacts market — though I fear that the game still has a couple of weaknesses that euro-purists will call out; the fact that the market tiles are hidden-until-built (making constructiion a tactical rather than strategic decision) is perhaps the greatest of these. And some aspects of the game perhaps seem a little bit dated already; dice placement, which was an exciting, emerging mechanism when this game first came out, has now been done in far more interesting ways. But it’s still got a couple of interesting tricks up its sleeve, and is thematically interesting. For a light worker placement game which playable in about an hour… it’s not bad. I’ll maybe not move it on just yet

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*HA! ...I DIDN'T EVEN TAG IT THIS TIME!
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Thu Jan 21, 2021 7:10 am
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Virtually September

John Shepherd
United Kingdom
Ovington
Northumberland
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The covid-delayed Button Shy Board-game-of-the-month packages seem to be coming thick and fast now; September’s instalment arrived a couple of days ago. It’s definitely a good one if you’re a bit of a Skulls of Sedlec fan (and I think, as we’ve already established — I’m a bit of a Skulls of Sedlec fan!)

From gallery of MrShep


The main feature is The Castle Guards expansion. I haven’t had chance to play it yet — but at first blush it seems a little bit less exciting than previous Skulls of Sedlec content. Mechanically, guards score points by being higher in the tableau than royals (thematically: so that they can “watch over” the royals and keep them safe. Obviously) …but that’s kind of a repetition of the existing royals-need-to-be-higher-than-peasants mechanism (and possibly harder to orchestrate — reducing its immediate strategic attraction). Still, I guess it pushes the dynamic of certain cards being more valuable in the late game than in the early game … and also adds enough new cards to the deck for the game to now be playable with 4 players (if you own both expansions) — which can only be a good thing. Once we’re allowed to gather 4 players together in the same room, that is

The pack also contains a postcard-printed scoresheet (with multiplayer on one side, solo game on the other side) … which, I guess might be useful if you don’t ever intend to play more than 8 games. Or if you laminate it? (though seems a bit pointless to me, tbh). And a surprise inclusion of a Gargoyle/Pumpkin promo card for the solo Skulls of Sedlec expansion — Monstrance. This was previously published as a print+play halloween promo … it’s definitely nice to have it this as a “proper” card now

Also in the pack… another character card for Chain Mail, an additional card for Trolling for Trouble, and the latest instalment of Personal Space content — the museum-themed “archive moon”. That’s a particularly interesting Personal Space NPC that I’ve been dealt this month — she reminds me a little bit of the painting that I’ve got hanging by the game room door…

From gallery of MrShep


From gallery of MrShep


Anyway… all in all, a good pack this one. Though, lets face it — anything with this level of Skulls of Sedlec content in it was always going to get my approval

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Mon Jan 11, 2021 7:10 am
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