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Meepleonboard

When I am not putting notes on paper I like to play. Here are my scribblings.

Archive for Nick

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4th December 2017 - Oh My!

meepleonboard
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I am still on the hunt for a decent solo game to play on my trips away from home, something light but involving and with decisions that will take my mind away from all the other stuff going on. Hostage Negotiator is my current squeeze of choice, and I can certainly feel myself leaning towards an abductor pack or two.

I would like to have something else to hand for a quick run, though, and yesterday evening I took Oh My Goods! off the trade shelf for the purpose of running a simple 11-round game. No automa, no fuss, just a simple against the clock type of thing.

I admired Oh My Goods! on my previous plays without quite getting around to loving it. I think it is a tight and impressive piece of design, but between the two of us (KT and me) it just did not quite click and we found it rather dry, although maybe I am just tiring of “get two of these to convert into one of those and use it to build that” games.

I am hoping that diving into this for a few solo plays will either salvage it or convince me that Port Royal (which I enjoy much more) is what I really need in this particular area. With a little luck this will also mean more playing this month after a November that, thanks to work pressures, was disappointing in its general lack of gaminess after a stellar October.

Sometimes that work brings distinctly unexpected pleasures, though, and yesterday afternoon I found myself in Metropolis Studios, where Queen did a decent amount of recording back in the day. Freddie's Fazioli grand still lives there, and it was way too good an opportunity to pass up, so, yes, I got to play Bohemian Rhapsody on Freddie Mercury's piano



Happy gaming!

P.S. Apologies for the lack of links - they seem to be unavailable at the moment.
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Mon Dec 4, 2017 3:21 pm
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28th November 2017 - Jumping on my own

meepleonboard
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There's so much good stuff tucked away in various corners of the Geek. I joined the site way back in 2004 and am still discovering small areas I never new existed.

Today I stumbled across the mention of a solo variant for Jump Drive in this thread, and it sounds as if it will be right up my street. It looks simple to pick up and understand, challenging enough to keep me occupied, and quick enough to be able to run through in a spare half hour or so here and there - perfect.

The only problem is that I am away from home and do not have my copy of the game with me, but I will be able to remedy that matter on Wednesday and maybe have time to sneak in a first game. Given that I have nearly seventy plays of Jump Drive racked up so far I'm hoping that this will enable me to experience some of what the game has to offer when on my own.

There are many great user-contributed solo variants on BGG, and I think making the best use of them requires a suck-it-and-see approach. Some of them are not right, but others hit the spot in a genuinely satisfying manner.

They can also provide a decent means of gaining value from a game that might not otherwise be played. I really do not think I have the kind of mind to develop a decent solo variant, but it is heartening to see that many others on the Geek can, and are willing to share their ideas, so thank you all.

Happy gaming!
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Tue Nov 28, 2017 8:05 am
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27th November 2017 - Some first plays

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We went to visit KT's sister and her boyfriend over the weekend, taking along a few games to explore, given that they are entry-level gamers and keen to take it to the next level. After a long drive we unloaded a pile of cardboard at the other end and got to gaming.

First up was Imhotep, which I had bought at the UK Expo but not played, a victim of too much other nice and shiny new stuff. I think that we all enjoyed the play, but without being wowed too much, and I had a similar feeling from the same designer's Bärenpark. In the end it garnered enough faint praise maybe not to be immediately damned, and it threw out a very close finish with the top three players within two points of each other.

After a round of Jump Drive KT's sister dug out her copy of Camel Up which I was keen to play. As KT and I usually play in two this has never been on our shopping list, but with four at the table it seemed like an ideal time to give this a go, and I enjoyed it a great deal. It seems almost alarmingly frothy at the start, but becomes substantially more interesting as players get to balance all the possible decisions. KT ducked out half way through the game, as it was very late, but I got all my bets in the right place and romped home to a healthy win, enjoying this a lot.

Over the weekend I also dug out my copy of Port Royal and Port Royal: Ein Auftrag geht noch... and gave the solo version a couple of plays, also my first plays of Port Royal. We've played Port Royal Unterwegs! a few times, enjoyed it a bit, but this felt much more like a proper game, even if the English on some of the rules was clunky enough to make me wonder if I had played it quite correctly. I lost both times and I'm not sure I would keep this just as a solo play, but I now really want to get this to the table with KT.

This little burst has allowed me to get a couple of games off my pile of shame, and I've been a little relieved that probably only one of them will be hanging around. It means I'll be able to spend more time playing games I really enjoy, but also frees up some slots for new cardboard...and on we go!

Happy gaming!
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Mon Nov 27, 2017 8:00 am
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24th November 2017 - Reviewer's perks

meepleonboard
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Thank you, postie!


I do enjoy being a reviewer, and consider myself very fortunate to have this as part of my life. The guys for whom I write send out a box of stuff every now and again, containing such items as the games pictured above, and then I get playing and scribbling.

I recently earned my silver reviewer badge here on BGG for 50 written reviews, and have the gold badge in my sights, but slowly and surely and all in the fullness of time. My site requires 2,000 words (give or take) per review, and that takes time and thought, and I also need to balance playing those games with enjoying my own collection.

As with many aspirational occupations, including my real life, the reality is slightly different from the dream, but the positives still significantly outweigh the negatives, and on a day like today, when a package arrives at my back door, it is smiles all round. Two of these games are ones I have had my eye on for a while, while the other one is a speculative choice, but all look good so far.

Thankfully my review site also allows me three months to get my reviews done, meaning that I can easily get around the pressure to get something written as soon as possible, and have a chance to get to know the games properly. As I review more I also find that I am less easily impressed by new designs and possibly sharper in my assessments...or is it that the market is becoming progressively saturated?

Whatever, the chance to receive games (which I love) to play games (which I love) to write about games (which I love) is too good to ignore. One day it is just possible that I might burn out on new games and instead settle in to play my oldies and goldies, but that day is surely a long way off, and in the meantime I think I am going to put together a Geeklist of my reviews to celebrate that silver badge, so stay tuned.

Happy gaming!
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Fri Nov 24, 2017 1:47 pm
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23rd November 2017 - Temp Worker Assassins

meepleonboard
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Alongside Ex Libris I got in my first play of Temp Worker Assassins on Tuesday evening. Well, I say it was my first game, but I played a couple of rounds with the designer at the UK Games Expo and bought my copy there. Since then it has lain on my shelf until my co-reviewer requested that I bring it along for a play. I am always happy to get a game off my pile of shame, so I revised the rules, which are pretty straightforward, and prepared myself for the evening's session.


Your trusty scribe and trustier other half with the game's designer.


In a nutshell, Temp Worker Assassins blends worker placement with deck building as players take turns to occupy and activate spaces or to attempt an assassination with various items of stationery they have picked up. What makes the game more interesting is that there is no hand limit, so players can stock up on supplies, and also that cards are played one at a time, meaning that an assassination can be attempted without the required cards in hand, instead hoping to draw them.

While the game went on perhaps just a touch too long - five rounds of five actions each - I must admit that I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. The artwork is decidedly quirky and the cards would certainly appeal to folks who work in an office, but there are some wrinkles below the surface that serve to give the impression of extra layers.

Where Temp Worker Assassins shines, though, is that there is a vast array of action cards in the box, meaning that while the core actions remain the same, those around the periphery will most likely always be different. I'm not sure how great this would be with just two players and less pressure for spaces, but it seemed to work well with three, and I think that four would be a good player count, even if it would make for a long game, but the manual comes with options to shorten its length.

I could see this being a good choice for gamers who spend their non-gaming hours in an office and fancy something decent but not too heavy to play, perhaps to destress. I cannot deny that it is also pure fun to take out a target with a Compact Disk Shuriken or some nicely sharpened pencils...

Happy gaming!
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Thu Nov 23, 2017 8:05 am
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22nd November 2017 - Ex Libris

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I had my first play of Ex Libris last night, a three player game with some other newbies. Since reading the designer diary about this I had wanted to give it a go, especially as it seems to come recommended for head to head play, which is how I do most of my gaming.

There are a few bells and whistles, but at its most basic level players are attempting to assemble a library of books, but they need to be in alphabetical order and on shelves that are not at risk of falling down. Everybody receives workers to place, along with a special worker who has an individual special ability.

There are also various locations to visit that offer more exotic permutations than the simple "draw or place" that is found on the player board, from auctions to bonus actions to the chance to snaffle the first player marker. The books also come in six categories, one of which is to be avoided, while players are dealt a category in which they seek to specialise.

There is a lot to think about in Ex Libris, and the options become more numerous as the game progresses, meaning that this is one of those plays that slows down as it goes on. There is also quite a bit of text to read on the locations, small text that necessitates peering over shoulders and passing of cards.

In all, though, I enjoyed this, especially the different aspects of scoring, despite coming second. While I don't think that KT and I would play it enough to warrant it entering our collection it certainly feels like a solid design that gives its players plenty to think about.

Happy gaming!
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Wed Nov 22, 2017 7:35 pm
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21st November 2017 - Playing tonight

meepleonboard
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At the far end of today, having fulfilled my work duties, I shall get into my car and head southwards before the final leg home, stopping off at a fellow reviewer's house to get in some gaming to round off the day. This will be most welcome, partially because I just have not done enough gaming this week, but also because said reviewer is always good gaming company.

As we are not only seasoned gamers but also limited in terms of time we have been wise fellows and decided in advance what we shall play, and it will be one of his and one of mine, with more to follow if time allows. None of this sitting around and scratching chins as we try to work out what to play, no sir - we will be straight down to gaming business. Heavens, we have even have read the rulebooks in advance, so how's that for planning?

The one of his we shall be playing is Ex Libris, which is on his review pile. I have wanted to try this since I first read about it, but the overall reception has not been as enthusiastic as I might have thought, so I will be glad of the chance to forge my own opinion.

From my pile of shame, at his request, we will be trying out Temp Worker Assassins, which I bought from the designer at the UK Expo. Unbelievably I think that my co-reviewer is a newbie both to worker placement and deck building, so this will be his first encounter with both - fingers crossed this will do enough that is different to set it apart from the competition and be worthy of its art.

As for later in the week, I am still pondering what I shall get to the table for my solo sessions, but I am leaning towards blowing the dust off my copy of Troyes and trying the King's Challenge solo variant, and getting in some more play-tests of the solo 1066, Tears To Many Mothers - real life has been getting in the way of this and I have not been quite as efficient on it as I would have liked to be, but there's time yet, also some new developments to try.

Happy gaming!
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Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:00 am
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20th November 2017 - Change of focus?

meepleonboard
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I haven't managed to get a huge amount of gaming done in the past couple of weeks. Work has been very busy, there has been a decent amount of travel, and manifold other pressures have encroached upon our gaming time.

In the middle of all this, KT ("between employments" since the summer and spending most of her energy in freelance jewellery design) has begun working at a nearby hotel. While I am delighted that she has found a new job that she seems to enjoy and where she appears to be valued, I am also aware that, as far as gaming is concerned, things might be about to change.

For the past few months we have lived in a happy oasis of working in different rooms in the same house and then reuniting mid-afternoon for some gaming, often extending into a decent session. That will change, though, as she will be out of the house more often and I will be left to fend for myself.

Most likely, the games we play together will gravitate towards those that we can get through in an hour or less, and those that last longer will be the exception rather than the rule. I suspect that half-hour games with a bit of heft will come even further to the fore.

On the other side of the coin I suspect that I will get more opportunities for solo gaming, and probably more substantial fodder. Almost all of my solo gaming has been done when I am away from our house, but now that I shall be home alone more often I think I will be able to explore that part of my collection in more depth, so what I lose on the proverbial swings it looks as though I will gain on the gaming roundabouts.

Happy gaming!
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Mon Nov 20, 2017 12:53 pm
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16th November - New arrivals!

meepleonboard
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A large package arrived at my house a couple of days ago, containing three games for review. As usual, I spent a very happy hour or so punching components, sniffing that cardboardy air and getting acquainted with my new friends.

First on the pile was Rhino Hero: Super Battle, and without doubt the first and most indelible impression I have of this game is that the box is massively oversized for what it contains. Are we meant to store an actual rhinocerous in there? It is up there in the Splendor realm of cubic profligacy, but at least Splendor has an insert. What on earth is going on here? Still, it looks like fun.

Next up is Heart of Crown, something that looks like Dominion with a twist. Heavens, many of the cards even have the same names! The tweak here is that you cannot score points unless you back a princess, at which point you begin to accumulate points to put her onto the throne. You also acquire some extra abilities along the way, which might well come in handy. We are having a break from Dominion - I can't quite decide if we are done with it, need a breather, or instead need another expansion - but it will be interesting to see how Heart Of Crown fares. Certainly the artwork is pretty good and there are fewer wide-eyed cartoon ladies with short skirts than I had feared. The card stock is impressive as well, but does it inject enough that is different into deck building, which is now a well-established mechanism with a whiff of the stale about it in the wrong hands?

Enter Clank! In! Space!. Heavens, the reviewers chez meepleonboard went for this like sharks on a shipwreck, but thankfully it ended up in my house. Firstly, I love, love, love the many nods and winks to various sci-fi universes, but the rest of the game just looks like quality fun from the get go. Even the briefest skim through the rules told me that there was more going on here than a simple retread of some other design. Well, except Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure, possibly. Whatever, this looks like quirky fun, and KT and I spent a happy time showing each other the flavour text on various cards, admiring artwork, and cooing over components. That is always a good sign.

With those games in the house my pile of shame is up to 19 games, and I'm going to have to do something about that very soon. So, where to start..?

Happy gaming!
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Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:00 am
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15th November 2017 - Hostage Negotiator

meepleonboard
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I really enjoy playing Hostage Negotiator. At the moment I am still honing my skills on the original base game, but I certainly have my sights set on the abductor packs and Hostage Negotiator: Crime Wave. The subject matter can be a little on the gruesome side - people do get killed after all - but at least I can console myself in the knowledge that wargamers deal with this pretty much all the time.

Last night, not having done much gaming recently, I set myself up against Arkayne Massua for yet another encounter, but something had clearly happened to put the dice gods in a good mood, because I managed to reduce the threat level enough to get Massua to release some hostages, and then talked him into releasing some more. Eventually it came down to my making a move, as time was running out, and I managed to get him to surrender without incurring a single casualty, not bad going for me.

I then moved on to my first encounter with Edward Quinn, who apparently has no health insurance. Well, gawd bless our outstanding NHS is all that I can say, but a call to Mr. Negotiator cannot be ignored, so off I went to deal with E. Quinn. He behaves differently from Massua, and is a kind of PG rated hostage taker, just getting more angry rather than killing hostages. Still, he is a pressure pot waiting to go, so it is important to keep him calm.

What Quinn really wants is health insurance, though, and he'll back down if you have enough time to talk to him, so I switched my focus to gaining conversation points, aiming to hit 12 to get him to give himself up. I made a concession in our final conversation to acquire an extra die, and it worked out beautifully - card and rolls got me to 8 conversation points, and I discarded my remaining cards to get me to 12 points, enabling me to persuade him to give up. Again, no hostages were harmed, a great result.

Hostage Negotiator is definitely my solo squeeze of choice at the moment. It is portable, easy to set up and play, and quick but interesting, delivering a decent story too. There are other games with stronger narratives and more involving gameplay, but for a spare twenty minutes here and there this game has really risen to the top of my gaming pile, and ousted Friday some time ago.

Happy gaming!
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Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:05 am
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