Where no Meeple has gone before

Life is challenging. As if that wasn't enough, I like setting challenges for myself. But I never take them too seriously. I'm guessing that's healthy, in life and in gaming. Here I'll be rambling about what I did or didn't do to accomplish my various goals.

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The Arsenal of Freedom

Hey everyone, how have you been this past week? I hope you are all doing well and managed to get some gaming in . Over here we had some very nice late summer days with warm temperatures during the days, but nights are getting pretty cool already. Also, days become noticably shorter - my bike headlight switched on once this week on my way home from work!
Normally, we would now start getting into the Essen preparations - looking at release lists for what we want to try out, make a list of games we consider buying, book the train tickets. All these things. So this year will be quite different - but I refuse to be too upset about things I cannot change. Instead, I've gone through BGG's Release Lists that they do instead of the convention previews and will talk a bit about games that have piqued my interest in one way or another later in this post!
So, for now, let's get going!

caravancaravancaravan

First off, let's start with the promised Goblins for Massive Darkness! I've finally finished them and here's the whole bunch of clone Goblin Warriors and their Boss:
From gallery of Farydia


There's now only the Goblin Agent left and then it's on to the Dwarves.
I also finished two more minis for Dark Souls: The Board Game:
From gallery of Farydia

From gallery of Farydia

From gallery of Farydia

These are legendary armour sets that you can find and then you would exchange your hero figure with the armour figure on the board. Gameplay value of these is rather limited in my opinion, but they sure look pretty badass!

caravancaravancaravan

Weekend gaming was restricted to Sunday, because Saturday was much too busy. During the week, a new game arrived. And because it is an abstract tile laying game with cats, Calico wouldn't spend much time waiting around to be played!

Board Game: Calico
(Image by BGG User kalchio)

Elevator Pitch: You're sewing a quilt (how original...) to attract cats. (Who cares about original now, huh?)

moment: Realizing that this game is actually more brain-burny than I would have thought.

soblue moment: Bzzz! Brain fried!

Impressions: Calico is a tile laying game, where players draft tile of different colours and different patterns. Different from many other games of this type, you can place your tiles on any free space on your board - no restricitions apply.
So... total freedom, eh? Woohoo, let's sing happy songs and rejoice! Or... maybe not? Because of course there are restricitions: While there are no placement rules made by the game - of course you want to score points!
And here's the catch, as they say: You have three goal tiles on your board that demand a certain setup in their surrounding tiles. Then you have the cats, who want certain patterns in certain shapes and you have buttons that you get for having three adjacent tiles with the same colour. So all these goals push and pull you in certain directions. It very much reminded me of Roll Player in that regard, even though the game mechanics are of course very different. But that feeling of having to satisfy conflicting goals that make all this open space on your board suddenly feel horribly cramped - that is very much the same vibe I get from Calico.
At some point you will have to forego pursuing a certain goal, because you cannot resolve all conflicts to your satisfaction. But which one? And when to give up on one thing and focus on something else instead? Or maybe stall for one more round and place a tile that doesn't do much - maybe that perfect tile comes up after all?
The key is to manage to keep your options open as long as possible. But if that were easy, this wouldn't be much of a game, eh?
So if you're looking for something that scratches that Roll Player-ish optimization dilemma itch, but is faster to setup and play - I'd say you are in for a treat with Calico.
If you think you'll get a simple game to play to wind down after a long day... erm... nope. The duality of the colour vs. pattern makes this a lot more thinky than the cute sleepy cat on the cover suggests.
We were pretty happy with this Kickstarter purchase! Oh, speaking of that, the components are top notch, really sturdy cardboard, very clear colour distinctions, really nice production overall.

Meeple Verdict: meeple will go there again.

Challenge Progress: Magic Number, Flavour of the Week

~~~°°°~~~

Thursday we were finally all assembled again and deliveries had been done the day before, so we were very much up to smashing each other's face in - at least in dice rolling form of King of Tokyo!

Board Game: King of Tokyo
(Image by BGG User AppleSeed54)

Elevator Pitch: Tokyo is no more. And the Meka Dragon is King!

Impressions: laugh Boy, oh boy, what a massacre! We finished in 15 minutes which must have been the fastest game of KoT I have ever played! But it was also the most hilarious. arrrh
After the first round of rolling dice it was clear that no-one would win with points. There had been so much damage dished out, that the most healthy monster was at 6 Life. And from there it became even more brutal. As for some reason, hearts were hardly rolled at all, it became clear in round 3 that damage was the only way to go. No going for energy or something - there were only two cards bought during the whole game. I bought the one that dealt 3 damage to everyone (hrhrhr, although that was more or less my last punch before I went out) and P. bought the Spiky Tail to do even more damage.
After two rounds, just as many monsters were out and the three left standing were also in their death throes already.
P. just barely made it into Round 4: He was in Tokyo with a single Hitpoint left and there was only one thing he could sensibly do - he had to deal at least 4 damage to take out the strongest monster left (the Kraken) - the other one was already down to 2, as well. And of course, the way this game went he rolled total overkill with 5 claws plus his bonus damage, wiping everyone out, flattening Tokyo and emerging as the King with his single hitpoint left.
I guess he limped from the ruins of the city and died somewhere in the mountains .
But we had so much crazy fun, it was totally worth it!

Meeple Verdict: meeple loves going there.

Challenge Progress: None

caravancaravancaravan

Not-Essen

So these are five games we would definitely give a closer look if we were at Essen this year:

The Castles of Tuscany
Board Game: The Castles of Tuscany

I have never played The Castles of Burgundy - although I have an inkling we would like it. There's this nice anniversary edition at our FLGS that I have picked up and put back again time and time again. Something holds me back and I have no idea what that is.
As I understand Tuscany is a variation of Burgundy (the game, not the region ) and it would be cool to try this out and finally find out whether we would indeed like it. I know there are several digital implementations on BGA, Tabletopia, TTS what-have-you. But we just don't like playing this way very much . I want to have the pieces in my hand, otherwise I could just play a video game.
So, will we get Castles of Tuscany this year, then? I doubt it. My gut is very often right and when something holds me back from buying a game, past experience shows that I should listen to my gut, even though I can't put my finger on what it is that holds me back. So no, I won't buy this without trying. No Essen, no trying, no buying. thumbsdown

Monster Expedition
Board Game: Monster Expedition

Last year's Essen surprise for us was Carnival of Monsters. A Richard Garfield drafting game with monsters at the Amigo booth? Go figure. We didn't buy it in Essen, but rather at our FLGS a little while later, but it is a fun game, whose drafting mechanisms work very well with two players. Artwork is nowhere near Magic: The Gathering levels, but that is true for 99.9% of games. And this year they seemingly bring out another game set in the same "universe" (whatever that entails...) as Carnival of Monsters from another renowned designer, this time the big name is Alexander Pfister.
There's not too much info about it, yet, but it seems to revolve around mainly about dice placement and push-your-luck mechanisms, which sounds quite fun. A bit of engine building may also be involved. I think we may actually pick this one up if and when it hits our FLGS! thumbsup

Tawantinsuyu: The Inca Empire
Board Game: Tawantinsuyu: The Inca Empire

For a game that's supposedly releasing in 5 weeks, there is not a lot of info to be found. But this seems to be the next iteration of games with hard to pronounce names, where this currently is in top spot for me.
We were mildly interested in Teotihuacan: City of Gods back when it came out, but didn't get to try it out in Essen and it looked more convoluted than what we would enjoy. Trwa... Tawaa... Hützlgrützl* by Dávid Turczi however - well, there's not enough info right now to be certain either way or the other, to be honest. But we tend to enjoy his games or games where he was involved in, so I'm keeping an eye on this. And it's worker placement with a twist, which is another bonus for us.
So I think, chances of us picking this up are pretty good! thumbsup

*It's not that hard, actually: Tawantinsuyu. See?

Renature

Board Game: Renature

This game mainly piqued my interest because of the designers (Michael Kiesling, Wolfgang Kramer). And it looks pretty. On the other hand, the game's description doesn't exactly blow my mind. Tile laying with area majority. Hm. As we won't get to try it, this is all I have to go on and from that info: No Essen, no trying, no buying! thumbsdown

Lost Ruins of Arnak
Board Game: Lost Ruins of Arnak

Czech Games Edition has a pretty solid track record with us. And the game's description seems to tick all the right boxes: Deck Building, Worker Placement, Exploration, Ressource Management. Yummy!
It also looks very nice (as their games tend to do). This is one we probably would have bought "blind" in Essen anyway, so I see no reason not to get this, just because we won't carry it around for hours in a bag... thumbsup

More Not-Essen will follow next week!

caravancaravancaravan

That's all for today - thanks for reading and following along. Please drop me a line below, if you have anything you'd like to add or comment on! I hope you have a great week yourself and stay safe and healthy!

meeple waves goodbye!

caravancaravancaravan

Overall challenge progress:

Categories Challenge (Normal) COMPLETE
Categories Challenge (Hardcore) COMPLETE
71% Categories Challenge (Insane) thumbsup

Mechanics Challenge (Normal) COMPLETE
Mechanics Challenge (Hardcore) COMPLETE
67% Mechanics Challenge (Insane) thumbsup

Flavour of the Week thumbsup

Explore Diversity (100 x 1) COMPLETE

Magic Number 14/25 thumbsup

84% Time Travel challenge 21/25 thumbsup

67% Books 10/15 thumbsup

53% XBOX360 games finished: 9/17 thumbsdown
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Today 12:14 pm
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The Next Phase

Hey everyone, welcome back! So we have finished the 100x1 challenge (play 100 different games) - and it has been a great gaming year so far. Generally speaking. But... having played 100 different games still means there are over 100 still on the shelf we haven't played in 2020!
How many of those will make an appearance yet? Who knows, but I will try to polish the Crystal Ball a bit and make an educated guess which games will make it to the table in the remaining months of this year.

So. We only had time for two games unfortunately, as we had to cancel Lunchtime gaming, because work cry. But it looks like we'll be meeting our deadline, so that is a very good thing and it probably means that we'll be able to have a fun gaming lunch again next week!

caravancaravancaravan

Yes, yes, I know I promised Goblins. But... no Goblins. Instead - more Dark Souls! These two guys are the remaining Heroes from the Characters expansion, which means we now have a total of 10 Heroes to choose from.
So here is the Sorcerer:
From gallery of Farydia

From gallery of Farydia

... and for those who think this game is too easy anyways - the Deprived:
From gallery of Farydia

From gallery of Farydia

No, this is not a joke, you can try not to die with a guy in loincloth for armour, a crude club and what is basically a small door as a shield. Good luck out there! shake
Apart from the question of whether any sane person would try this - I'm pretty happy with his skintone and overall look .

And next week there will be Goblins. Promise!

caravancaravancaravan

The weekend started with a game that had sat on our Unplayed shelf for roundabout two years. Main reason being that we didn't buy it, but it was a gift from Awaken Realms as a means of apology that The Edge: Dawnfall Kickstarter was so long delayed. While I appreciate the gesture, Siege Storm didn't sound all that interesting, so it got pushed aside by other, shinier games. This week we finally decided to give it a whirl.

Board Game: Siege Storm
(Image by BGG User Awaken Realms)

Elevator Pitch: A 1vs1 fighting game with cards that is neither Magic: The Gathering nor KeyForge: Call of the Archons.

moment: The card art is pretty nice.

soblue moment: My fiery dragon that was supposed to wreak havoc on the battlefield was bounced back to my hand. Twice! angry

Impressions: Let's get this out of the way: It was way more fun than we had expected! The rulebook tries to be funny - and succeeds most of the time - but I had preferred it if it had been a bit better structured instead. Looking something up was quite the pest. But it at least made me chuckle once or twice while reading.
So what's this game about? Well. Both players have a deck of 34 cards. Then you draw four cards as your starting hand and put the rest into three piles of three cards each. These are at the same time your draw deck, your ressource pool and your health.
So you see where this is going, right? Play this big bad beastie that costs five of my health points? Or stick with the smaller ones first? Choices are not made any easier by the fact that all cards are dual use: Either play them once for the action or play them onto the battlefield where they have a passive ability and slowly move towards your opponent. Once a creature reached them, you have a choice again - just let them chew off some life points, hopefully dispatching a useful card of theirs in the process? Or rather move the creature to your support row, where they can help you reduce the cost of playing cards? Or move them to the battlefield to keep that passive ability in play?
So there's a lot to decide and some interesting dilemmata to make you scratch your head.
But no worries: The game takes about 20 minutes, so it's not a two-hour brainburner.
So, yes, we did like it. I would even consider getting one or two more decks, if they had ever been produced. As far as I can tell, the game died before it ever really lived, which is a bit of a shame, but hardly surprising.
Why's that? Well, if you produce a 1vs1 duel cardgame you are jumping into a very small pond with very big and nasty fish. There's of course the almost 30 year old catfish lurking everywhere you go: Magic: The Gathering. Ok, you say. Not everyone wants get that deep into a game, when they just want to have casual fun.
Alrighty, then there's this carp: KeyForge: Call of the Archons. No deckbuilding, just in-ya-face fun for small money and small footprint. Who have just reached more than 2 million registered decks. There's also Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions Trading Card Game, which at least does sell decently I believe (certainly helped by the duality of the physical game and the app version).
So... who needs another one of those games? The thing with "health as a ressource" is a neat twist that here at least works better than in Warage: Extended Edition, which suffers terribly from balancing issues. But honestly... in a world where all these other games exist - Siege Storm will have a tough time to establish themselves as the pike in my proverbial pond. I'm afraid, it's rather a goldfish and Awaken Realms probably realized that early on. So I can't blame them for concentrating on their more successful stuff. But I would buy another deck or two - so just in case you're looking for a customer: Here is at least one whistle.

Meeple Verdict: meeple wouldn't mind going there again.

Challenge Progress: Diversity, Magic Number

~~~°°°~~~

Sunday. We would be playing our 100th game for the 100x1 challenge this year! So - what would it be? We knew we would choose a game we both enjoy a lot. Well... that didn't make the choice much easier . After some back and forth we decided not to overthink it, just open up one of the shelves and play the first game that struck our fancy. And thus we opted for Istanbul!

Board Game: Istanbul
(Image by BGG User skalexBoard)

Elevator Pitch: Move your merchant and his assitants across the board, trying to find the most efficient way to gather these rubies faster than your opponent(s).

moment: Just one more ruby!

soblue moment: Darn! So close and yet so far!

Impressions: I think it's ot the first time on this blog that I admit I suck at racing games. So Istanbul is really not the big exception to this rule... but I almost did it! I was one ruby away from finishing! I think that's the closest I ever got in this game and that was great! (Yeah, I'm setting the bar low here, I know... cry )
But... let's backpedal a bit and talk a bit about the game and why it is great:
During the game you will move your merchant around the modular board, moving one or two spaces at a time. When you finished moving you have to either leave an assitant behind at that spot or pick an assitant up that you had left there in a previous turn. If you cannot do either of these things, you can still move to the location, but you cannot use it and that basically means losing a turn. And I don't have to tell you that this is a really bad thing in a racing game. So don't do it .
Locations have different actions, like getting trade goods, selling trade goods for benefits or money. Or get rubies.
And this is really all you will care about: Get those rubies. The first player to get their sixth ruby will trigger the endgame. The current round is then completed, but in most games this hardly matters - so most of the time it's "first to 6 rubies wins".
There are various ways to collect those precious stones and the reason why we love this game so much is, that the best way to those rubies varies greatly with the setup. In our game we played this week (we played with the Istanbul: Mocha & Baksheesh expansion), coffee was a good deal. As the coffee trader and the coffee roaster were directly adjacent. Whereas the Black Market (where you can get to the valuable blue goods rather cheaply) was really off the beaten path and rarely visited. Whereas the Tea House lay conveniently between the Well (where you sometimes need to go to collect your assistants once you've left them all over the city) and the Wainwright (where you buy cart upgrades, which eventually will give you another ruby). So I made quite a bit of money with gambling, while M. rolled terribly devil.
Which also meant I was the only one to exchange money for rubies, M. stuck with goods and coffee. And he got two Mosk bonus tiles.
In the end we were both at 5 rubies and I was only two turns away from my sixth ruby, but alas, M. finished out the game before that.
But it was great to play again. And it seems like I finally may get enough of a hang of it that I am finally competitive...

Meeple Verdict: meeple loves going there.

Challenge Progress: Diversity, Mechanics, Time Travel

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The Crystal Ball

Now you know what our 100th game this year was. So how about the games we love and that haven't made it to the table, yet?

Board Game: Trickerion: Legends of Illusion
I think it is a sure bet that at least one of our Mindclash games will make an appearance. The main deterrent here is the setup and the table space required, but we both love them. My personal favourite is Trickerion: Legends of Illusion followed by Anachrony, while M. prefers Cerebria: The Inside World over Anachrony. I would be very much surprised if we didn't play at least one of those before the year is out. Anachrony has good odds, as the add-on will be arriving in a few weeks / months. Or so I hope!

Board Game: Mystic Vale
Another favourite is Mystic Vale, where I'm very much surprised we haven't played this year, yet. I'm sure we'll see this on the table again soon, it's one of our "comfort food" games.

Board Game: Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure
Another staple of our collection are the Clank! games (Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure and Clank! In! Space!: A Deck-Building Adventure) and at least one of those has a high probability of getting played, too. We played both games late last year for the last time, so it might be time to delve into the depth of the dungeon / spaceship again soon!

Board Game: Terra Mystica
Then there's Terra Mystica and Gaia Project - I like Terra Mystica better, M. prefers Gaia Project, although in both cases, I am more enamoured with the game than he is. But I hope he'll humour me and agree to play either one later in the year. I just love terraforming as a theme for some reason that I couldn't figure out, yet laugh.

Board Game: Raiders of the North Sea
Oh, and I think we'll push to play the Northsea games by Garphill again (Shipwrights of the North Sea, Raiders of the North Sea, Explorers of the North Sea). They are a fun series, especially when played in campaign mode. We like Raiders best and Shipwrights is the weakest, but we have houseruled a few things here and that makes the first one in the series entertaining, too. (Mainly we take the actions in turns until both players pass. That significantly reduces downtime and gives each player more control over their game. We accidentally played this way the first time and after trying the "right" way once decided to stick with the "wrong" way!)

So I'll pack away the Crystal Ball for now - we'll see how right I was in a few months .

caravancaravancaravan

That's all for today - thanks for reading and following along. Please drop me a line below, if you have anything you'd like to add or comment on! I hope you have a great week yourself and stay safe and healthy!

meeple waves goodbye!

caravancaravancaravan

Overall challenge progress:

Categories Challenge (Normal) COMPLETE
Categories Challenge (Hardcore) COMPLETE
71% Categories Challenge (Insane) thumbsup

Mechanics Challenge (Normal) COMPLETE
Mechanics Challenge (Hardcore) COMPLETE
67% Mechanics Challenge (Insane) thumbsup

Flavour of the Week thumbsup

Explore Diversity (100 x 1) COMPLETE

Magic Number 13/25 thumbsup

84% Time Travel challenge 21/25 thumbsup

67% Books 10/15 thumbsup

53% XBOX360 games finished: 9/17 thumbsdown
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Sat Sep 12, 2020 5:20 pm
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The Ensigns of Command

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I finished two more Heroes for Dark Souls: The Board Game. One is a classic - the Thief:
From gallery of Farydia

From gallery of Farydia

He looks like every fantasy world thief ever imagined, most of all, he reminds me of Garrett from the fantastic stealth game Thief: The Dark Project. And he fits right into the Dark Souls world, too .

The next one is the Pyromancer:
From gallery of Farydia

From gallery of Farydia

Yeah... I was just as confused. No fire and flame? Just an axe and a shield??? But yep, that's what the Pyromancer starts out with in Dark Souls. But fret not, there is the Pyromancer Armour set, too - and that will have proper flames and stuff.

I am also almost done with the Massive Darkness Goblins. I'm pretty sure they will show up here next week!

So enough of painting stuff, let's move on to playing stuff!

caravancaravancaravan

So Saturday we played a game from the Great Unplayed pile - although Project L hasn't been there for long. It was certainly a long time in the making...

Board Game: Project L
(Image by BGG User at010)

Elevator Pitch: Tetris.

moment: Dee-dee-de-dee...

Also featured in this fun thread!

soblue moment: The game is over too soon!

Impressions: Finally a game that does not hide the fact that it is very much inspired by Tetris! Although the shapes are not falling down and you are not trying to arrange them in rows - this game somehow totally felt like Tetris - the Board game, more than any of the other polyomino games managed to do. It is also purely abstract in its execution, you are arranging coloured pieces into shapes to gain more or different pieces and to score points.
So the main mechanics are the drafting of the puzzle tiles, which not only give you points, but also new shapes as a reward. This means you have a bit of pool building put into the equation, as well. It's not terribly interactive, but you may want to watch your opponent a bit nevertheless, especially when gauging how many turns you will have left.
The whole affair is over in about 15 highly entertaining minutes and - well, you did not sew a quilt, plant a garden or build a park.
But that's fine, the game is simple, entertaining and a joy to handle. Although the plastic shapes are small, they are never fiddly. The turns move at a brisk pace, especially with two players and downtime is minimal. I'm not sure it will hold up after 100 plays. But at the size of our collection, we will probably not get to that point anyways. I'm sure it will hold up well enough for the next few years .
I am sure my Mom will like this, too!

Meeple Verdict: meeple will definitely go there again

Challenge Progress: Diversity, Magic Number

~~~°°°~~~

From time to time we re-evaluate games that we are unsure about whether to keep them in the collection. This may always go either way: Sometimes we just forgot what it was we liked about the game and sometimes... we are very much reminded why we never played again. Which way would it be for Strike of the Eagle? I re-read the rules and we were about to find out!

Board Game: Strike of the Eagle
(Image by BGG User Mnemonaut)

Elevator Pitch: A card-driven wargame with lots of unknowns and reconnaisance actions. Also: Memory...

moment: Decisive Victory!

soblue moment: "I can't remember..." - "Yeah, me neither."

Impressions: cry This is a game we both totally wanted to like. We got this, because we found the topic interesting. The Polish-Soviet war that took place practically immediately after the end of World War I, when you should think everyone was fed up with warmongering. Well... there's no end to human stupidity...
But the fact that it was fought at all and in what way is really an interesting topic. (For example, there was real cavalry with horses involved, when you would think that this was totally outdated even by that time.) Interesting for history buffs, anyway whistle.
The second reason for buying was, that we liked Commands & Colors: Ancients quite a bit and thought this would be similar, with a bit more complexity.
So Strike of the Eagle has blocks and is card driven, so much we were correct in our assumption . But the way it works is quite different from C&C:A.
Don't worry, I won't lay down the complete rules here . But the core mechanic is this: The blocks are only stickered on one side, the other is blank. So you can see your own units, but from your opponent you only know that they have some troops at a certain point, but not which ones and at what strength.
Then you put markers down with your orders for the round. This can be movement orders or defend a position or rally troops. Or it can be reconnaissance. In fact, 1 order each turn must be a recon action.
With this recon action, you can peak at a certain unit of your opponents'. You will also gain some information from movements or rally orders. Like, if they move two spaces, then this must be cavalray (the game assumes no-one is cheating, which I'm totally ok with). Or if they are rallying, the troop is now stronger than it was before.
So it has this interesting guessing game of where will your opponent go this turn, will they go more on the defensive side, or will they push - and if they push, then for what point? Is this order a "Move out of this point" or a "defend this point"? What should I do in response?
All this is a really interesting and challenging affair.

And yet...shake

Yeah. You see, we both are terrible at memorizing random stuff. And this is what this game is all about. I get to look at my opponent's unit in, say, Warsaw. And it's a Strength 3 Infantry. Cool. Now I know that. But then there's other stuff happening and troops are moving and troops are fighting and that means, they are revealed as well. And then I have no idea anymore where this unit I scouted ended up. Which is just as well, because I have probably forgotten what it was anyway.
I have to memorize so many things. The indirect information I get. My own orders to a certain extent. The direct information I got. And on top of that I have to process all this and somehow make an informed tactical decision with all the info I have and don't have.
I just cannot handle this kind of thing and neither can M. So it was mostly us groping around in the dark and hoping that something may turn out like it was supposed to. It would probably have been a lot better, if the game allowed to take notes. But it doesn't and so brain power it was... robot
On top of that, the scenario we were playing had me starting with a 2 Victory point advantage and scheiß die Wand an, is it hard to gain VPs in this game! So I knew, I would mainly be turtling. Defending choke points so he couldn't get to the VP producing points and do some needle point attacks on his VP cities to keep him from throwing everything into a single point to get a decisive victory in battle.
He managed to get one Victory point, but this meant I still ended with a 1 point advantage and he had no means to launch a second full-out attack.
So, no, unfortunately, this game has left our collection. Not because it is a bad game, but it is ultimately not for us. But it has already found a new owner and is on its way to a new loving home. I'm happy we gave the game a second chance, but ultimately we were fine to let it go.

Meeple Verdict: meeple strikes out on their own.

Challenge Progress: Diversity, Categories, Time Travel

~~~°°°~~~

There are still quite a few people on vacation - but it's not quite as ghost-towney anymore now. And we had Just Four people who wanted to play Just One again!

Board Game: Just One
(Image by BGG User van00uber)

Impressions: We were on a roll this time! We guessed 9 out of 13 correctly, which is our best result, yet! And we had a few real stinkers...
Like when P. had to guess "Sun". S. and myself both had the exact same brilliant idea to put "central star" on our boards. I had contemplated "nuclear fusion", but thought this might be too obvious. B. had correctly assumed that S. and myself would choose the nerdiest hints (well...) and put "Yellow". P.'s face when he looked at this single remaining clue was priceless. No, he didn't get the correct answer.
A close call hit, when the single remaining clue for "Song" was "Verse" - but B. took it in stride and got the correct answer.
The last word was my guess and it was "Unicorn". That gave everyone a laughing fit, because that is totally my word! My JIRA avatar is a unicorn and I will often post funny unicorn pics in Skype when we are just goofing around. So, the good folks had the luxury of too many clues to choose from! But ultimately that made it pretty easy to get that final word and make our record score!

Meeple Verdict: meeple loves going there

Challenge Progress: None.

caravancaravancaravan

Wow, this week was stressful at work. We're moving fast and furious towards the next deadline and that in the middle of vacation season. Yeah, which idiot planned that? (Hint: It was the ingenious armchair general who cannot remember what her scouts scouted whistle.)

On top of that, I got totally distracted by Europa Universalis IV. So I made little progress on books or my 360 video games challenge. But, hey - weekend is coming up, so there's hope left to get some relax time in .

caravancaravancaravan

That's all for today - thanks for reading and following along. Please drop me a line below, if you have anything you'd like to add or comment on! I hope you have a great week yourself and stay safe and healthy!

meeple waves goodbye!

caravancaravancaravan

Overall challenge progress:

Categories Challenge (Normal) COMPLETE
Categories Challenge (Hardcore) COMPLETE
71% Categories Challenge (Insane) thumbsup

Mechanics Challenge (Normal) COMPLETE
Mechanics Challenge (Hardcore) COMPLETE
66% Mechanics Challenge (Insane) thumbsup

Flavour of the Week thumbsup

98% Explore Diversity (100 x 1) thumbsup

Magic Number 14/25

80% Time Travel challenge 20/25 thumbsdown

67% Books 10/15 thumbsup

53% XBOX360 games finished: 9/17 thumbsdown
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Fri Sep 4, 2020 11:26 pm
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Cause and Effect

Welcome back everyone! We're back at work this week - but it kinda felt like someone had evacuated the whole company and forgot to tell a handful of expendables . The upside of an almost empty office is that you get things done with less interrupts. And lunchtime gaming was back (although, as it turns out, it never went away, only I wasn't there the last two weeks.)
So let's see what the last week of August brought us to the table.

caravancaravancaravan

After a bit of a hiatus, I'm back at painting Dark Souls: The Board Game. This is the Cleric, one of the additional Heroes you can play, if you get the Characters Expansion:
From gallery of Farydia

From gallery of Farydia

Maybe the cloak came out a bit more blue than I was aiming for, but overall I think she looks decent. And you can tell she's a Cleric, because she has this Mace. For some reasons it was established a few years back that Clerics wield heavy blunt weapons. If someone can point me to the one who started that trend, I would be happy, because it's been nagging at the back of my head for a week now... whistle

caravancaravancaravan

The first game we played on the weekend was Century: Spice Road. It's growing on me. Really.

Board Game: Century: Spice Road
(Image by BGG User henk.rolleman)

Elevator Pitch: Play cards to gain cubes and transform cubes into other cubes to turn them in for Victory Points.

moment: I changed red cubes into green cubes. Yay!

soblue moment: I... oh, blast this. There's really not much to say about this game one way or the other.

Impressions: Judging from the description, this game is about as bland as they get. Yes, you are supposedly trading spices - but to be totally fair and honest - what you're doing is exchanging cubes. You also do a little bit of engine building, by buying cards from a market that (hopefully) let you exchange cubes more efficiently than your opponent.
So, yeah, it sounds like a real snoozefest. And I personally still prefer Splendor, which is also an ultra-light engine builder, but it has poker chips instead of wooden cubes. So for me, Chips > Cubes, ok?
But... the game is growing on me. M. immediately took a liking to it when we played the first time (and he can't quite explain why that is, too), while I was a lot more lukewarm. But with every play, I liked it a tiny bit better. It plays fast and it has this two-part gameplay, where in the beginning you will try to get a good engine together and then you stop building and just run it. And then the game just tumbles to the end.
The artwork is ok, bordering on pretty. But again, I prefer Splendor here.
But... we had a good time playing this game. And even though it mashes together in my memory to just... well... exchanging cubes and buying cards and I would be hard pressed to remember the particulars - I would be inclined to play the game more often.
For this game... I think M. won, but I'm not 100% sure. So even if this sounds rather like a forgettable game - I wouldn't dismiss it quite like that. It's a strange beast, for sure.

Meeple Verdict: meeple doesn't mind going there

Challenge Progress: Diversity

~~~°°°~~~

Sunday we wanted to play something with more meat on the bone. And opted for one of our favourite games and our favourite engine builder (I smell another Top-5-list coming on maybe...?) - I'm talking about Imperial Settlers, of course!

Board Game: Imperial Settlers
(Image by BGG User Tycjan)

Elevator Pitch: Start out small and end with a huge snowball turn.

moment: The last round is always amazing in this game, as your engine snowballs ahead.

soblue moment: Alas, my snowball wasn't big enough...

Impressions: We did not intend this, but this is how this weekend turned out: Both Century and Imperial Settlers are engine building games. In the same fashion that mice and blue whales are both mammals. Well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration . But you get the idea whistle.
What I'm getting at is, that Century (and Splendor) for that matter are very condensed down engine builders, while Imperial Settlers heaps on top of that: Variable player powers. Hand management. Card drafting. Ressource management. And even some direct player interaction.
So. While we had a good time playing Century - we just love Imperial Settlers. Yes, the factions are maybe not perfectly balanced. Whatever. But each one of them is so much fun to play! We have all expansions and I 3D printed an insert to keep everything neatly in place.
The artwork is so cute and I like the wooden pieces. I might bling out the cold coins one of these days...
So what happened? We both drew two factions to choose from and I chose the Egyptians over the Atlanteans and M. chose the Aztecs over the Barbarians. And then we got going. The first three rounds were extremely slow going, because we could not get a whole lot of useful production buildings and had to make do with deals for the most part. I was doing alright, turning gold into victory points and M. was getting a bit worried about his Aztecs losing the favour of the gods (the prayers did not go his way at all).
But then when the final round rolled out, we had found a bit of a footing finally, profiting from stuff built in the previous round and were able to produce enough ressources for a pivotal final round. I could already smell defeat, though, because while I was ahead in victory points accumulated during the game, I could not compete at all with the sheer number of buildings he churned out towards the end. He wasn't able to do any of the VP generating actions - but he racked up 30 points in building against my meager 15. So that was that, but it was great fun. This game usually is. Because it really feels like you manage to increase your possibilities across the course of the game.
All-time favourite!

Meeple Verdict: meeple loves going there

Challenge Progress: Diversity

~~~°°°~~~

So Thursday we scrounged up three people from the few that were left at work to play some Love Letter shenanigans.

Board Game: Love Letter
(Image by BGG User henk.rolleman)

Elevator Pitch: Get that letter to the Princess!

moment: Switching the King with the Princess as the final action of a round is sweet.

soblue moment: "You have the prince!" - "What the-?"

Impressions: This game is not played as often anymore, as we will usually have more than four players on a regular basis now. But when we do get it out, everyone has a great time with it.
There was a lot of cheering and laughter and we played a very close game. It came down to the final round, everyone had two hearts (we play to three hearts) and it was anyone's game.
We had crazy rounds, like the one where P. had two guards on his first turn, which is always a crap shoot, but hilarious if it hits. Which it did, when he pointed at me and said "You have the Prince!", which was correct and I was out before I played the first card. (Yes, we do realize that one of the double cards have a higher chance to hit - but it's just more fun, if you hit the Prince or Princess with this totally random guess. No-one ever tries to take out the Countess for some reason... )
But we also had some good deduction rounds, some crazies where cards would fizzle against two Handmaids. And the final round was decided when S. had to discard the Princess after he had kicked me out with the Baron.
Fun times. We then had to get back to work. What a shame...

Meeple Verdict: meeple likes going there

Challenge Progress: Diversity, Category, Mechanisms

caravancaravancaravan

What else is new? I had a bit of a scare, when I thought my Kindle was dead. But as it turned out, it was just the on/off switch (again) and I did a small repair and it seems fine again. That switch is such a flimsy thing - I'm really surprised this was only the second time I had to repair it. Last time it would not switch on - this time it would randomly switch on, off and reset the Kindle, which had me worried the processor might have given up the ghost. Nah, it was only that stupid wire-rigged thingy they use to activate the actual switch. Kind of a strange design choice. (Which they removed from the second generation onward, so that might tell something about its reliability...)
Yeah, well, so now that I don't have to buy a new one immediately, I could continue with Terry Pratchett's Reaper Man and I may even finish until next weekend.

Concerning Video Games - I'm still in the middle of Borderlands 2, nothing new here. But I got nominated for Videogame Geek of the Week! So if you'd like to head over there to say hello, follow the link above and just say hi or ask something or just vote for my Lonely Island Game .

caravancaravancaravan

That's all for today - thanks for reading and following along. Please drop me a line below, if you have anything you'd like to add or comment on! I hope you have a great week yourself and stay safe and healthy!

meeple waves goodbye!

caravancaravancaravan

Overall challenge progress:

Categories Challenge (Normal) COMPLETE
Categories Challenge (Hardcore) COMPLETE
70% Categories Challenge (Insane) thumbsup

Mechanics Challenge (Normal) COMPLETE
Mechanics Challenge (Hardcore) COMPLETE
66% Mechanics Challenge (Insane) thumbsup

Flavour of the Week thumbsup

96% Explore Diversity (100 x 1) thumbsup

Magic Number 14/25

76% Time Travel challenge 19/25 thumbsdown

67% Books 10/15 thumbsup

53% XBOX360 games finished: 9/17 thumbsdown
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3 Comments
Fri Aug 28, 2020 10:40 pm
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Homeward

It's still terribly hot over here - I guess it's called Summer? cool Anyways we used a short lull in temperatures mid-week to go up to Stuttgart and visit Wilhelma. A really nice zoological and botanical garden. Always a great destination for a day trip!

And who's the best? Yeah, merkats are da best!
From gallery of Farydia

Is there a boardgame about merkats? I'd play that, I'm sure .
And who's second best? That's right, camels are second best!
From gallery of Farydia

There's loads of boardgames that feature camels. Off the top of my head I can name three at least: Jaipur, Five Tribes, Camel Up. So where's the love for merkats???

Anyway, enough of the silly stuff, let's talk about games. And minis. Still no merkats, though .

caravancaravancaravan

I have now finished the last guardian monster we might encounter in the Tainted Grail base game! So I'll call it done for now, until the other stuff arrives.
And what is the final guardian monster? Well, no monster at all, but the Angry Mob:
From gallery of Farydia

This was a fun mini with lots of character. Happy how it turned out overall. So now I can focus on finishing Massive Darkness and Dark Souls...

caravancaravancaravan

We spent a long weekend in Koblenz, so of course we needed to visit the FLGS there. "Zeitgeist" looks more like a storage room than a shop, but they have a plethora of games to browse. We picked up Mandala and gave it a whirl on the evening of the same day.

Board Game: Mandala
(Image by BGG User lorna)

Elevator Pitch: Play cards of different colours to score points. Trouble is: You don't know which colour will score how much for you until later in the game!

moment: Cashing in a good chunk of valuable cards.

soblue moment: Ah, I need to end this before he can catch up. Where's an orange card if you need one?!

Impressions: Soooo... that didn't take long, eh? I just talked about wanting to get that game less than two weeks ago and here we are already!
So Mandala is another abstract strategy game - which means it is as much about making mandalas as Patchwork is about sewing. But - who cares?
The playmat is funny, as it is an actual kitchen towel manufactured by a kitchen towel manufacturer. That must have been a strange quotation request for them .
In the game, players take turn playing cards into one of two mandalas that are divided into three areas each. Each colour can only be in one of these areas, once every colour is present in a single mandala, it is destroyed and the cards from the middle are distributed to the players.
At the end of the game, cards score points - but how much is determined by when you take this colour for the first time. Which makes this whole thing a very interesting exercise on various levels. You have to keep track of what are valuable cards for your opponent. You have to supply the middle with cards - but you also need to play cards into your field, because if you don't you won't get any cards from the middle. At some point you may want to start digging for certain colours to end the game... we were pretty impressed by the many layers this game has and I think it will be fun to explore this game in more detail!
For now, our first game ended with a nailbiter and M. taking the win 54-50 points.
Very happy with our purchase here!

Meeple Verdict: meeple Would like to go there again

Challenge Progress: Magic Number, Diversity

~~~°°°~~~

We certainly have been playing a lot of abstracts lately and with no sign of slowing down, we played Hypergrid on Monday.

Board Game: Hypergrid
(Image by BGG User at010)

Elevator Pitch: Tic-Tac-Toe evolved into an actual game that's worthwhile!

moment: Getting to score twice on a turn is so important and feels so good.

soblue moment: I feel like scoring three points should be possible, but I have yet to see it. So instead I'll score... once? And set you up for a double score? Yeah, that turned out great...

Impressions: Hypgergrid is a real brainburner, although the rules are straightforward. Each player has a supply of chips in 5 colours. Players take turns placing chips on the board, placing two on their turn (if possible). You can place each chip anywhere on the board, with the restriction that you can never place the same colour one directly after the other. That is also true for the colour your opponent played last on their turn! (So if they placed a green chip, you cannot place another green chip immediately. Instead you have to place a different colour first.)
The goal of your placement is always to get three-in-a-row of any single colour. This gives you one point per row you build. You can of course score each time you place your chip, so getting more than one point on your turn is crucial to winning - while at the same time not setting your opponent up for an easy score in return.
Every time a row scores, that row is locked for that colour and cannot score again as long as there are still at least two chips of that colour in that row. Once you're down to only one chip of that colour, then the row is unlocked again and may score anew.
Now comes the biggest twist: You can stack chips on top of each other. And while only the topmost chip is relevant for scoring - once you place the third chip on a stack, you can use that colour's special power. This lets you manipulate the board, e. g. by flipping stacks, discarding chips, moving chips or swapping stacks around.
And that's where the real heart of this game is - there's so much tricky stuff you can do this way, it's mind-boggling. It's also a bit AP inducing, even to people who are usually not prone to that.
The game box says 45 - 60 minutes and I'd say that is fairly accurate. Very interesting abstract of perfect information. It was only our second game and we are far from mastering this game. But it's a fun exercise for the brain and I look forward to getting better .
M. again took the win with 23-19 points.

Meeple Verdict: meeple likes going there

Challenge Progress: Diversity, Flavour of the Week

~~~°°°~~~

Tuesday we wanted to go for something lighter and decided on Fantastic Factories, a tableau building dice placement game.

Board Game: Fantastic Factories
(Image by BGG User kalchio)

Elevator Pitch: Use dice to turn ressources into victory points.

moment: Building an early Robot meant I could get a cheap extra die each turn.

soblue moment: For some reason, I cannot roll 4s...? That must be the strangest curse to put on a person ever! laugh

Impressions: I backed this game on Kickstarter because I liked the art and I like tableau building. I have mixed feelings about dice, but I like games where you roll your dice and then get to do something with them. I like dice drafting even more, but this kind of thing is ok, too.
We have played once before, with three players and found it ok. So we wanted to have another go at it with two.
And let me start off by saying: The number of players you play this with is totally irrelevant. Except for the card drafting at the beginning of your turn, this game is about as multiplayer solitaire as it can get. So much so, that you play most of your turn by yourself and the rulebook even says, you can do this all simultaneously. Which of course means you have no idea what everyone else did, but it doesn't matter much anyway.
And while I am all for more indirect interaction instead of all out inyaface stuff (with some notable exceptions) - this is really a bit much, even for us. I mean, I don't like interaction where I actively destroy what someone else is building. But blocking each other off, drafting things the other wanted or to put it in more general terms: Having to react and interact with what your opponent is doing and at least adjusting my play to that. I like that in a game. Or I want to do an interesting puzzle.
But while Fantastic Factories has a little bit of that going on, it's not really enough to get me all excited. So while it was a relaxing 30 minutes, it was also a little bit on the boring side. So... yeah, on the fence for this game right now.
Oh, almost forgot: I won 24-20.

Meeple Verdict: meeple doesn't mind goi...snore

Challenge Progress: Diversity

~~~°°°~~~

Today was the last day of our summer vacation - and as we spent someting like 24 hours on various trains in that time, we thought it appropriate to play a train game! We don't own that many of the sort, but as we were travelling all over Germany, we decided to honour this by playing Ticket to Ride: Märklin.

Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Märklin
(Image by BGG User Acetate)

Elevator Pitch: Choo-choo!

moment: I used to have a Märklin train as a kid. First steps in messing around with electronics... such a cool toy!

soblue moment: It was destroyed in a house fire cry.

Impressions: I don' think I have to say a lot about Ticket to Ride. Draw / draft cards to build train connections and rack up points for completing them. Yes, it's light and certainly depends a bit on the luck of the draw. But it has all these cool model trains as art and all the train connections that we regularly ride on and it has a very good flow to it.
Turns are ultra fast and decisions are just as easily made. We played a tight race during the game, I racked up some sweet points with my passengers, sending them aaaall the way across the map. But I was rather unlucky with my goal cards and could get nothing to really match and nothing with the really lucrative points.
So it was no wonder the game ended as it did with me trailing by more than 50 points. Oh, well.
But we had a lot of fun with this game and I wonder why haven't played in such a long time? I think we'll get one of the map expansions soon-ish. Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 7 – Japan & Italy sounds really good...

Meeple Verdict: meeple likes going there

Challenge Progress: Diversity, Category

caravancaravancaravan

As expected, I did finish "A Blade of Black Steel" last weekend. The finale was grandiose, some good old-fashioned treachery can go a long way to keep you interested in following along for the third and final installment. But I like to keep some diversity in my books, as well, so instead of diving headlong into "A War in Crimson Embers" I picked up Terry Pratchett's "Reaper Man" instead. An older classic, that I'm having fun re-reading.

That's all for today - thanks for reading and following along. Please drop me a line below, if you have anything you'd like to add or comment on! I hope you have a great week yourself and stay safe and healthy!

meeple waves goodbye!

caravancaravancaravan

Overall challenge progress:

Categories Challenge (Normal) COMPLETE
Categories Challenge (Hardcore) COMPLETE
67% Categories Challenge (Insane) thumbsup

Mechanics Challenge (Normal) COMPLETE
Mechanics Challenge (Hardcore) COMPLETE
68% Mechanics Challenge (Insane) thumbsup

Flavour of the Week thumbsup

93% Explore Diversity (100 x 1) thumbsup

Magic Number 14/25

76% Time Travel challenge 19/25 thumbsdown

67% Books 10/15 thumbsup

50% XBOX360 games finished: 9/18 thumbsdown
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Fri Aug 21, 2020 11:49 pm
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Hey, everyone! It was great to see so many recommendations and comments on the Abstract Strategy list . Search warrants have been issued for the Gipf games and a Shogi set - and I mean to bring them all in for questioning. At least!

Anyways, didn't want to miss this weeks session and challenge reports, of course, so here we go!

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This month's Cat of Crumptown is Gerald, the Mage:

From gallery of Farydia

From gallery of Farydia


Again, this was a joy to paint. I went with drybrushing on the fur and glazing for the highlights on his clothes. I like that the models are crisp and sharp and everything is well-defined with nice details without being overloaded with stuff.

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Saturday was International Cat Day - so we wanted to play a game featuring cats. And shockingly enough, we don't really own a lot of these. So we decided to get out The Isle of Cats!

Board Game: The Isle of Cats
(Image by BGG User baguafox)

Elevator Pitch: Rescuing cats from an island by luring them onto your boat with fish. And polyominoes.

moment: Filling all rat spaces!

soblue moment: Final points tally...

Impressions: Second time we played the game and I'm sad to report, I didn't do much better than last time... . I'm afraid this will be one of those games I'm doomed to love, but are really struggling to be any good at.
We had two very strange rounds, where there were almost no green cards in the draft. The draft, by the way, might be the weakest part of the game, I think. Because you're just handing around the same 14 cards in any given round, it's not all that interesting. I think Carnival of Monsters does the 2p drafting a lot better, by constantly introducing new cards into the mix. We might try that for Isle of Cats as a house rule next time.
Apart from that rather minor point, we both enjoy the game. It has polyominoes (yay), super-cute cats (double-yay), a bit of economy, a bit of push your luck and a bit of messing with your opponent without it coming across as aggressive.
So we were happily playing along and generally having a swell time. And then, inevitably, there's the endgame scoring and I was already dreading the pile of lessons M. had in front of him and my pile was not only smaller, I also knew that I hadn't done very well with them. So I... kind of got destroyed. I think he almost doubled my score cry.
Ah, well, I guess I'll have to play more to get better at the game, right? shake

Meeple Verdict: meeple loves going there

Challenge Progress: None

~~~°°°~~~

This year is a good year to cut that pile of unplayed games down to size. We are almost there for our minimum goal of getting to less than 10 in that pile. So on Sunday we worked on another Kickstarter arrival to accomplish that goal: Smartphone Inc.

Board Game: Smartphone Inc.
(Image by BGG User myerto)

Elevator Pitch: Expand your company and sell overprized smartphones to willing buyers!

moment: Selling a bunch of overprized smartphones to willing buyers. devil

soblue moment: That final round. Arrrgh, it's Lords of Waterdeep all over again! angry

Impressions: Let me start off with saying this game has an amazingly high production quality, especially the board: It's double-layered, so all these cubes and tokens have a cozy space to live in during the game and don't get knocked over.
Also, every player has their own organizer for their components. The downside of all this is, that the box is chock-full of stuff and not that easy to get everything back inside and close the lid.
But enough about bling-bling, what about the game? Well, it's an economic game, where you lead your company to success by selling smartphones to willing buyers, developing new technologies like Wi-Fi and 4G. You also need to increase your production capabilities, set the price for your product and expand into new markets.
While all that sounds really complicated, it's really not. The game lasts exactly 5 rounds and each round is divided into fairly fast-moving phases. The longest is the planning phase, which everyone is doing in secret and then the other phases are just about executing your plans: Increase or decrease price, produce, improve your production, develop technologies, expand and finally sell. Victory points are awarded for the number of goods you sold multiplied with the price. As not every buyer is willing to pay any price, you'll have to balance out the price against how much you can produce and how much you can sell. A very interesting dilemma.
I was doing really well all game and was constantly in the lead, but then in the last round, M. snuck up from behind and rushed past, because I couldn't produce enough phones in the final round to keep him at a safe distance (points-wise, of course ).
Final verdict was that we both enjoyed the game a lot, even though two players may not even be the best player count. But it was still competitive enough and we had a great time with it!

Meeple Verdict: meeple would like to go there again

Challenge Progress: Diversity, Flavour of the Week, Magic Number

~~~°°°~~~

The hot weather just kept coming at us, so Monday we decided to stick to lighter fare again, bringing out our #1 Game for Two and #1 Abstract Strategy game. Yes, of course it's Dragon Castle!

Board Game: Dragon Castle
(Image by BGG User rascozion)

Elevator Pitch: Build the biggest, most impressive temple with Mahjongg style pieces and the help of friendly spirits.

moment: Plopp. There goes my roof onto this tiny shrine... And here's another... Plopp. Happy little temple...

soblue moment: Knocking over part of my temple and having to rebuild it

Impressions: I've talked about this game in general already this week, when it made the #1 on my Favourite Abstracts list. And I stand by everything I said then: Handling the tiles feels great (although yes, sometimes things get knocked over a bit). It has great table presence. It gives your brain just the right workload and we are always totally chilled out by the end. Which doesn't mean, there wouldn't be hate-drafting or a race to end the game while one's ahead. But it all feels so... nice. For lack of a better word.
I had a good feeling, even though M. had racked up a lot of points during the game. But I had more 3-storey shrines. And in the end it was enough, I won with 71-65 points. laugh

Meeple Verdict: meeple loves going there

Challenge Progress: Diversity, Flavour of the Week

~~~°°°~~~

Lunchtime crowd is on their own this week, as I'm on vacation. But I had a spy looking in on them and know that they played Railroad Ink: Blazing Red Edition. How it went and who won and how many people were there, I have no idea. My spy wasn't very good .

Board Game: Railroad Ink: Blazing Red Edition
(Image by BGG User rascozion)

Impressions: I like the game and I wish I had been there. But then - vacation is nice, too!
We used our free time to get a Baden-Württemberg Ticket, hop onto a train to Triberg and do some hiking in the Black Forest. We learned some interesting bits of history of the Black Forest Railway on the way (which is actually quite interesting) and visited Germany's highest waterfall in Triberg. It's really about feeding the squirrels, though...
On our way back home, the train broke down 7km before we reached our destination and we wasted an hour waiting if something would move again and then ended up getting into a taxi to take us home. Still a great day out, even without boardgames.
Yeah, what did you expect me to tell you about the game? I didn't play! shake

~~~°°°~~~

caravancaravancaravan

Some train trips (see above) and the hot weather had me make good progress in the reading department again. I'm really enjoying my second outing with the Villains in "Blades of Black Steel". I have now just passed the halfway point and the author just crams in so much action, quirky characters and dark humour, it's an amazing trip. Especially coming off the tame (lame?) thing that Caliban's War was just beforehand. There's a lot of swearing, so that might be a bit bothersome for the American reader. As a citizen of Germany, I would hardly notice .
There's another lengthy train trip at the horizon for the weekend, so I might actually be finished this time next week.

That's all for today - thanks for reading and following along. Please drop me a line below, if you have anything you'd like to add or comment on! I hope you have a great week yourself and stay safe and healthy!

meeple waves goodbye!

caravancaravancaravan

Overall challenge progress:

Categories Challenge (Normal) COMPLETE
Categories Challenge (Hardcore) COMPLETE
67% Categories Challenge (Insane) thumbsup

Mechanics Challenge (Normal) COMPLETE
Mechanics Challenge (Hardcore) COMPLETE
64% Mechanics Challenge (Insane) thumbsup

Flavour of the Week thumbsup

89% Explore Diversity (100 x 1) thumbsup

Magic Number 14/25 thumbsup

76% Time Travel challenge 19/25 thumbsup

60% Books 9/15

50% XBOX360 games finished: 9/18 thumbsdown
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Thu Aug 13, 2020 10:18 pm
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The Best of Both Worlds, Part III

Hey everyone! Today is a special post in-between normal posts where I'd like to talk about my Top-5 favourite Abstract Strategy games. Because I'm on vacation and it's hot and I like the genre laugh.
I'll also mention games that just missed the top of my personal Mt. Olympus and a few games of that category that I would like to try. If someone has helpful recommendations - I'm all ears!

A few words going in: We own 20 games marked in the category of Abstract Strategy games in the BGG database and I have played several more. So I was trying to find my favourite 5 in a pool of about 30-something games. I ranked these games using the PubMeeple ranking engine, based on how much I'd like to play a game in most situations. So yes, there might be a slight bias towards shorter games, but to be honest, most of these games have a playtime of less than an hour anyway. And it's my list after all, I rank it however I see fit .
While not all of the games I looked at are two player only, I play abstracts purely as two player games, so all my impressions are at that player count. Thus, without further ado, here's my list:

d10-5d10-5d10-5 Patchworkd10-5d10-5d10-5

How does it play? Tiles are arranged in a circle on the table. There is a moving pawn that restricts which tiles a player can draft on their turn. Tiles cost time and buttons (read: money) to draft. How much time you spent ultimately determines how often you will be able to draft anything and buttons are victory points in the end. Drafted tiles go onto a personal board, the more spaces are covered at the end of the game, the better.

Board Game: Patchwork
(Image by BGG User STOCKBROT)

Why is it here? While it pretends to have an actual theme, there is no doubt that it could in reality be about anything and nothing. The author, Uwe Rosenberg, kind of proves my point, as he has since put out several games with similar mechanics, but a gardening theme (Cottage Garden was the first, I think). But while I have played Cottage Garden and thought it was decent, not even the cats could convince me to buy and play that one over Patchwork. The double economy of the button and time ressource is fascinating and always creates an interesting dilemma. I think it is more tactical than strategic, as you have to be on your toes and make do with what the game throws at you. But you also cannot just play on a whim - you'll have to build a button economy and plan your time efficiently. Neat.

Am I any good at it? I'm at least not bad. I think we are about 50:50 in this game.

d10-4d10-4d10-4 War Chest d10-4d10-4d10-4

How does it play? Each player controls four different unit types. Units are represented by Poker chips that are drawn from a bag. You then use the drawn chips to either increase your board presence, strengthen a troop already there, move troops around the board or add new chips to the bag. First player to place his 6 markers on control points wins the game.

Board Game: War Chest
(Image by BGG User SrBoardgames)

Why is it here? I like almost everything about this game. The tactile feel of the chunky Poker chips in the bag, the clear and simple icons, the troop diversity, the back-and-forth on the battlefield. I don't like that you can be screwed over by drawing from the bag. On the other hand, this is something you have to plan around, but it can feel a bit frustrating when the odds were clearly in your favour and you still draw the wrong coins. But the good far outweighs the bad.

Am I any good at it? Eh. Hard to tell... We have only played three times so far. And while I won the first game, success has since eluded me .

d10-3d10-3d10-3 Onitama d10-3d10-3d10-3

How does it play? I just explained that in the last post of this blog .

Board Game: Onitama
(Image by BGG User Martinus)

Why is it here? This game packs a lot of punch into 15 minutes of gameplay. There is a definite learning curve: During the first games, you may think it is all a tactical game, you just see what your opponent throws at you and try to roll with the flow. And they are doing the same. Then, with repeat plays, you suddenly start analyzing the patterns beforehand and plan out how you want to use them. When to give what pattern away and what to hold back. How to use that to sneak by. You will still have to account for what your opponent does, of course. But you will no longer be drifting from turn to turn, but plot a strategy for your game plan. It's amazing how much this game unfolds over time.

Am I any good at it? Again, at least not bad. We are about evenly matched at this game.

d10-2d10-2d10-2 Azul d10-2d10-2d10-2

How does it play? Players are drafting groups of tiles to put onto their tableau. For every row in your tableau you need a different number of tiles to fill it, tiles you cannot place give negative points. Forcing your opponent to take tiles they do not want is a big part of the game and might be perceived as a bit cutthroat. But it's usually your own fault for letting it happen devil.

Board Game: Azul
(Image by BGG User DamianG)

Why is it here? A comfortable game to setup and play in less than 30 minutes. Tension is always high, but you have good influence on what happens on the board, while not totally eliminating a bit of randomness in the tile draft setup. So it's both strategic and tactical, but we never feel lucked out. And the tiles are good and chunky quality.

Am I any good at it? Hm. Not really . I rarely win against M. and also multiplayer I'm usually somewhere in the middle-field.

d10-1d10-1d10-1 Dragon Castle d10-1d10-1d10-1

How does it play? You draft tiles from a middle pile, either you get a matching pair or a single tile and a shrine roof. You put that onto your own tableau to create areas of a single colour. Once four or more tiles of the same colour are orthogonally adjacent to each other, they are flipped over and score points. They can now be built over as a second or third storey. You can also build a shrine roof on any pile, netting you points at the end.

Board Game: Dragon Castle
(Image by BGG User henk.rolleman)

Why is it here? It gives us a similar feeling as Azul, but without the cutthroat element. So if we just want to casually build temples and talk about the day, then this is a totally laid back and relaxing exercise. It's more strategic than tactical, as you will have to plan your way to the top floors and also balance the shrine roofs. There are a ton of different layouts for the central tableau and there are different end game score goals and special abilities that you can mix in to have a slightly different experience each time.

Am I any good at it? I win this game more often than I lose. So I can't be totally rubbish laugh.

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These are games that just missed out on the Top 5, but I'd like to mention them here nevertheless:

Hive:
We only played twice, the first play we were a bit lukewarm, the second we enjoyed very much. So I find it a bit early to put into any of the top spots.

Itchy Monkey: A rather quirky game, where you play lice colonies on monkeys and apes. You try to get your lice on certain configurations of monkey tiles. It's good and we have enjoyed our plays, but couldn't crack the Top 5.

Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends: When I saw this was not in the Top 5, I was at first totally surprised, because I like this brainburner very much. Then I looked at the Top 5 games and went "Oh, yeah, that explains it." It is one of the heaviest brain burners on our list of abstract games and the spatial element make this really tough. Which is why we don't play it more often and also why it couldn't crack into the top spots. I'm also really bad at it .

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These are games that I haven't played, but would very much like to:

Gipf series: They are really pure abstracts and I would really like to try them out one of these days. The question is, which one? YINSH is the highest ranked, which leads me to believe it would be an excellent entry point. While from the game description, DVONN sounds most interesting to me. Either way doesn't seem to matter, as I have not found either of them in a shop - neither at a FLGS or online so far. So if I want to go in, I will have to try my luck at the Geekmarket, I guess?

Mandala: This pops up constantly in the What Couple Have Been Playing geeklist and it sounds really interesting. If I see it anywhere on a shelf, I'd definitely snag a copy. The designer is the same one who did War Chest, so that's another bonus.

Santorini: Santorini was all the rage when the new deluxified version came out. It stille seems to be played a lot by people and gets very good reviews. The fact that it is ranked #7 in Abstract games makes me think it must be good. But reading about the gameplay left me a bit undecided. So this is one I'd like to try before I buy.

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Some of you may think that the list above has some glaring omissions in the "classics" department. So I won't close this entry without a few words in that regard.
Yes, classics are called that for a reason, they've been around and played across the worled long before BGG or the internet or electric light was a thing. Or democracy in large parts of the world for that matter . And they are still widely known and played and enjoyed by a lot of people. But I'm not a lot of people devil.

I have never played Shogi, although I'd like to, because I have a feeling I might like it.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
At least more than Chess.
So I could even have it included on the list above. I guess. Yeah, I really think I'd buy and play a set if I came across one that looked nice .

I have played a fair share of Backgammon and I think this really old classic has aged pretty well. We never played for money, of course, so the gambling aspect was lost on me. But overall I think the gameplay holds up to modern day standards. There's a bit of luck, but not so much that you feel like the game is playing you. I do like it and still play occasionally. It's just not in the Top spots or runner-ups of this list.

I have played Go a few times, but far too infrequently to really have an opinion. It has this intimidating halo of the pro players, but if played against an evenly matched opponent, I think it can be quite fun. But on the other hand, I'd really not suggest it over any of the other games on this list. It didn't even make Top 10, it just doesn't appeal all that much to me.

Finally, let's talk about the elephant in the room. I don't like Chess and it's not even in my Top 30. There, I said it. How can I like abstracts and not like Chess? Well, fairly simple. I just hate everything surrounding this game more than I dislike the game itself. But I hate that it made Analysis Paralysis into a form of art. I hate that you cannot really play it casually, because it always feels like I miss out on layers upon layers, so that leads to heavy AP even on a friendly level and the game drags on and on. And the opening phase is so darn boring, because nothing happens and it all feels so tedious and then you've made a mistake and arrrgh! And I hate that it somehow manages to make me feel bad for not liking it.
Playing on a competitive level is really competitive and boils down so much to pattern recognition and knowing what the correct response to a certain opening or board state is. So while I find that interesting and fascinating on an intellectual level, it is just not something I enjoy doing. Or watch others do.
So yeah. I really don't like playing Chess. I'm sorry. shake

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So that's it, that's my take on Abstract Strategy games. Have anything to add, amend, recommend? I'd like to hear it in the comments . Otherwise thanks for reading and I hope I have put a new game onto your radar. Or made you want to play one you haven't played in a while. Or just entertained you for a bit .

meeple waves goodbye!
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14 Comments
Tue Aug 11, 2020 10:17 pm
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Too Short A Season

Hey everyone, I hope you are doing well! Today was my last day at work before I have two weeks off! We haven't planned anything, yet, as planning tends to blow up in your face this year. But I'm sure we won't get bored. If all else fails, we'll play a lot of boardgames I can then ramble about .

caravancaravancaravan

The last weekend was really hot and that kept me away from the painting desk for most of the time as it is directly under the roof. Not fun at all!
But temperatures took a nosedive. (Up to the point where I had to put on a light jacket in the morning on my way to work!)
So that was good for painting and I finished the Mulchman monster for Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon:
From gallery of Farydia

From gallery of Farydia

The sculpt was a bit all over the place. It is very intricate, which makes getting a brush in hard, but at the same time doesn't have a lot of detail. Except for that tiny nest with eggs, that is a nice and fun touch. Ah, well, he's done and looks better than grey. Next customer, please!

caravancaravancaravan

There is a new expansion coming for Petrichor. So we decided to play the game and decide whether we would like to have more tiles to play with. And a cow meeple!

Board Game: Petrichor
(Image by BGG User myllis)

Elevator Pitch: Players are raindrops trying to water as many plants as possible. Yep. That's the theme of this game.

moment: I vote for rain and it rains!

soblue moment: Getting snagged away the wheat majority on the last turn.

Impressions: Petrichor's theme is certainly uniqe and more than a little strange. Also, the game's mechanics may take a bit to wrap your head around. The first two rounds of our first game we had no clue what we were doing.
But then it clicked and we were introduced to a very unique and rewarding game.
So this time, we were confident to start playing from the get-go cool. We played the short game, because that also feels a lot tighter and somehow has more urgency to your actions (for lack of a better word). And we also added the tiles from the Flowers expansion, but didn't add player powers.
The game is mostly an area majority game, with the centerpiece of its mechnaisms being the rather uniqe action selection:
You play cards that allow you to do one of four actions (all of them in some way manipulating your board presence). That action also determines, what kind of weather you can vote for. Yes, you vote for the weather. This is a feature that the real world is severely lacking, don't you think? laugh
The two weather effects with the most votes will then be executed at the end of each round, which again allows you to manipulate the board presence.
Then, if certain conditions are met, there is a scoring phase called harvest, where players get points based on area majorities. Each type of tile scores differently here, which makes this work very well even with only two players (which is normally not a great player count for area majority games imo). Some tiles will only give points to the player with most raindrops, others need certain weather conditions to give really good points, some give more points ot the player in second place, others give tokens that are scored for token majority... you see, there is a plethora of options and we are far from having explored even the basics of the game thoroughly.
Of course, our enjoyment is also helped by the sheer prettiness of the game. But the main factor really is the engaging gameplay.
Oh, before I forget: Yup, we're going to get the cows. Even though we haven't played the Honeybee, yet. But that's only a matter of time, I'm sure. I mean, if nothing else it looks so adorable, don't you agree?
Board Game: Petrichor: Cows
(Image by BGG User fleursciortino)

Meeple Verdict: meeple loves going there

Challenge Progress: Flavour of the Week, Diversity, Mechanics

~~~°°°~~~

On Sunday we were trying to move as little as possible, while temperatures were rising outside. When towards the evening finally rain and thunderstorms came (voting for weather, see?) we regained enough energy to play another abstract game we just love a lot: Onitama

Board Game: Onitama
(Image by BGG User rkalajian)

Elevator Pitch: Teeny-weeny chess.

Impressions: Onitama is one of these games that I can explain to a new player in less than five minutes:
<Timer start>
You have 4 pawns and a king pawn. You win by either capturing the king piece or by moving your own king into the enemy house marked on the board. To do that, each player has two movement patterns that each of their pieces can follow. There's a fifth pattern between players and whenever you move, you then move the pattern you used to the middle and take the middle pattern. Play continues until someone has won.
<Timer end>
Did I promise too much? Depending on your ability to speak fast, this could be over in under a minute. Ok, you may have to give the other person a chance to catch up, but three minutes is certainly doable. The best abstracts are like that, in my opiniion. Which reminds me... I think I'll put up a post with our favourite abstract games soon!
But I digress... back to Onitama:
What we love about this game is that although the rules are simple, we have never played a boring session.
We are also pretty evenly matched in skill: We played two games back-to-back and I won the first game by sneaking my king into the enemy house. I think it should count as a double victory, because I also captured the king in the same move . First game took about 10 minutes.
Second game was a tad longer, as we got into heavy maneuvering. I tried for the house again, but was soon forced into backpedaling to safety . Then we played a game of attrition, trying to corner each other, which I ultimately lost when my third pawn was captured. I just lost too much wiggle room there.
I don't consider us experts on this game or anything, but it is an excellent abstract strategy game and plays in far less than half an hour. So it invites repeat plays and we have a roughly 50:50 winning record! We're also both getting notably better, which is nice to see, too.

Meeple Verdict: meeple loves going there

Challenge Progress: Diversity, Mechanics

~~~°°°~~~

The Lunchtime gaming crowd lured in another new player! J. was already lurking around us last week when we played Just One and this week we convinced him to sit down and play Codenames with us!

Board Game: Codenames
(Image by BGG User JanaZemankova)

Impressions: 6 months. That's how long we've gone without playing this game. Ok, it didn't help that we didn't play anything during lunchtime for several months at the Pandemic's heydays. And then along came Just One that quickly took the spotlight and before you know it, half a year has passed.
But we felt the itch again and J. said he liked word games, so we set up Codenames. P. explained the rules for J. while the rest of the group set up the grid and we got going.
Thankfully, we were not rusty at all and the Boy Group (it just so happened that we had the teams set up by gender) started off with a 4 word clue. Thankfully, they messed up after word number 2 and gave us our first word without us even having to work for it.
It was a good back and forth with no clear leader, but the clue of "Egypt" for Ivory just eluded us - because we were certain that there were no elephants in Egypt. Which is correct, of course, but that knowledge didn't help us in the least.
So in the end the boys made it, but we all had fun and J. was also very impressed with the game. I guess, he'll be a more regular guest at the gaming table in the future. thumbsup

Meeple Verdict: meeple loves going there!

Challenge Progress: None

~~~°°°~~~

caravancaravancaravan

I finished Metro: Last Light this week. It was a fun gaming experience, great atmosphere, still decent looks. Such a shame the boardgame was only so-so . I collected some thoughts in this post. So now my video gaming has shifted more towards Borderlands 2 and Tales of Vesperia, the two longest games still on my list for this challenge. I guess, this will take a while now .

That's all for today - thanks for reading and following along. Please drop me a line below, if you have anything you'd like to add or comment! I hope you have a great week yourself and stay safe and healthy!

meeple waves goodbye!

caravancaravancaravan

Overall challenge progress:

Categories Challenge (Normal) COMPLETE
Categories Challenge (Hardcore) COMPLETE
67% Categories Challenge (Insane) thumbsup

Mechanics Challenge (Normal) COMPLETE
Mechanics Challenge (Hardcore) COMPLETE
64% Mechanics Challenge (Insane) thumbsup

Flavour of the Week thumbsup

87% Explore Diversity (100 x 1) thumbsup

Magic Number 14/25 thumbsup

76% Time Travel challenge 19/25 thumbsup

53% Books 8/15 thumbsup

50% XBOX360 games finished: 9/18 thumbsdown
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Fri Aug 7, 2020 10:23 pm
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Disaster

Hey everone, another week, another post! So what's new? Well, we had a nice little barbecue party with the people from work - all COVID-19 compatible, of course. We had a hygiene concept distributed to everyone and were very careful to keep a sensible distance. It was still nice, though, even when a sudden rainshower soaked a few of us to the skin (we had to be heroic and save the meat) whistle. But it was good to have some social interaction beside work for a change. And the whole team has been working like mad since the year has started, so it was a well-deserved, hard-earned and much needed respite for an evening. Now it's back to full steam ahead!
In other news, I devised a new, faster method to get off the bike: It works and is very fast, but I'm left with a nasty bruise on my knee and a sizable abrasion on my elbow blush. So I guess I'll go back to the normal, slow way again .
Oh - and of course we played some games, too!

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No minis for games, but I continued with my pet project, the Cats of Crumptown:
From gallery of Farydia
From gallery of Farydia

I'm rather happy with the fur and the OSL effect - the highlights on the coat are not as smooth as I had aimed for, though.
Additioally, I also painted the Wand of Feathers, one of the mythical items of the cats...:
From gallery of Farydia

This project is really fun!

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Saturday we didn't have much time to play, so we dug out a short and sweet abstract: Hive

Board Game: Hive
(Image by BGG User Daniel666)

Elevator Pitch: A boardless abstract game with chunky pieces that are a joy to handle.

Impressions: I had bought Hive a few years ago on a business trip to Bremen. Because, well, that's the thing you do when you have nothing to do between end of the meeting and dinner .
Anyway, we played once, thought it was ok and put it back on the shelf. Since then we have grown more enamoured with abstract games and decided to give this one another whirl. And oh - did we love it this time around! We had no trouble remembering how all the different insects move and we were neck to neck for a good long while. (Well, a good long while in this game means something like 10 minutes!)
In the end, the spiders were my doom, as I just could not work the "walk three steps" movement work in my favour fast enough. We thought we'd play best of three next time, because it's really quick and we would have played another round immediately, if we hadn't been on such a small time budget on Saturday.
Overall, this was a brilliant experience and I would recommend Hive to everyone who is into abstract games. It has no luck and perfect information, so if that's not for you, of course take my recommendation with the necessary grain of salt. But if you like these things- what am I saying, in this case you have probably already got that game. It's 20 years old, after all!

In comparison to other abstracts we own, I think I still like Onitama a tiny bit more. And if you cast the net a bit wider and include abstracts that do not have perfect information, I'd also prefer to play a match of Azul or Dragon Castle, before returning to Hive. But hey, that's some great company to keep, I think. And you might surmise from this list that I like chunky game pieces whistle.

Meeple Verdict: meeple loves going there

Challenge Progress: Flavour of the Week, Diversity

~~~°°°~~~

Sunday we unpacked another game that had sat unplayed for several months. After the success of Tiny Epic Mechs last week, we tried to repeat this with Tiny Epic Tactics.

Board Game: Tiny Epic Tactics
(Image by BGG User mercopparis)

Elevator Pitch: King of the Hill on a very small scale and with cute artwork.

Impressions: I could already tell that M. did not like the game early on. I don't really know why that is, but he felt he had no means to compete and he just hated the whole experience.
Which is a shame, because I thought it was quite fun. A rather simple skirmish game with a neat 3D map, lots of variety in setup and straightforward gameplay.
Alas, I doubt we'll ever play this game again . I won pretty handily, but I'm not sure how much of that is my own merit, as his heart was clearly not in it.
Ah, it does have a solo mode, so maybe I can have some fun with it on another business trip. If that ever becomes a thing again...

Meeple Verdict: meeple will probably not go there again

Challenge Progress: Diversity, Magic Number

~~~°°°~~~

Thursday lunchtime group requested - Just One. Again! It's definitely not a game you play just once. Sorry, I'll see myself out... laugh

Board Game: Just One
(Image by BGG User jlele)

Impressions: Wow, this has been an amazing success with the lunchtime crowd! This time we had S. join us, after she had stomped us all at King of Tokyo. She's not a native speaker and is still learning German, so when it was time for her to guess, we agreed that we would write the clues in English and that worked out quite alright! And she was totally happy that she effortlessly learned a bunch of new German words on the way thumbsup.
We were doing quite well and in the end had guessed 9 out of 13 words.
Most difficult time we had was when my mystery word was "Mozart" and all the geniuses put Opera and Music on their cards, which of course was canceled out, so I was left with a single clue of "Talent". Which was awesomely specific, you know... So I just went with Dieter Bohlen, because he does all these talent shows (I mean, whatever, right?). And P. said "Well, almost..." and everyone howled with glee, because that's just what this game does. It makes everyone laugh and have a great time!

Meeple Verdict: meeple loves going there!

Challenge Progress: None

~~~°°°~~~

caravancaravancaravan

Phew, it's been pretty hot and humid this week. That did not go well with my video game targets... But I think I'll manage to finish Metro: Last Light this weekend.

Thanks for reading and following along - please drop me a line below, if you have anything you'd like to add or comment! I hope you have a great week yourself and stay safe and healthy!

meeple waves goodbye!

caravancaravancaravan

Overall challenge progress:

Categories Challenge (Normal) COMPLETE
Categories Challenge (Hardcore) COMPLETE
67% Categories Challenge (Insane) thumbsup

Mechanics Challenge (Normal) COMPLETE
Mechanics Challenge (Hardcore) COMPLETE
61% Mechanics Challenge (Insane) thumbsup

Flavour of the Week thumbsup

85% Explore Diversity (100 x 1) thumbsup

Magic Number 14/25 thumbsup

76% Time Travel challenge 19/25 thumbsup

53% Books 8/15 thumbsup

44% XBOX360 games finished: 8/18 thumbsdown
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Fri Jul 31, 2020 10:08 pm
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Elementary, Dear Data

The Spiel des Jahres awards are out! So... do I want to comment on that? Because it feels like they didn't leave a big splash this year and not just because of COVID. I was just rather underwhelmed myself, I have not played either the SdJ Winner (Pictures) or the KdJ Winner The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine, although I know that Die Crew had and has a lot of buzz around the 'geek.
And while I would be interested to try out the latter, the former... I don't know feels rather uninspired. I'm not sure why the umptieth game that makes you perform some clumsy representation of something for others to guess what you did, stand out so much. I mean... ok, looking at the competition, it's probably ok, as Nova Luna excited no-one that I know of, too. snore
From the recommendations list, I played The Fox in the Forest and Little Town and while neither of these games really clicked for me, I liked them just fine. And I'd rather play either of those than the winner or the runner-ups. I was really disappointed that Watergate didn't get a recommendation cry. (I know that a 2p only game is out for the competition, but they could have recommended it, at least!)
But hey, maybe that's just me? It's not even that I don't like light party games (see below), so maybe I'm not giving Pictures enough credit? Ah, well, who knows? And frankly, who cares? shake
Enough about awards for games I haven't played and let's see instead what games we did play and how we liked them!

caravancaravancaravan

Although I finished something, I didn't get to take any pictures of my finished mini, yet. So nothing to see this week .

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Gaming started on Saturday with something light, but not too light. Which meant, we dug up Master of Orion: The Board Game after a few years of hiatus. Did it hold up its good reputation it had in our memory? Let's see:

Board Game: Master of Orion: The Board Game
(Image by W Eric Martin)

Elevator Pitch: Straight-forward engine building in the Master of Orion universe, which I wouldn't know, because surprisingly I never played the PC game.

moment: Racking up points for the final tally in the end.

soblue moment: I had a very expensive card reserved from the beginning and never got to play it. I got it eventually, but each round until that was like "I'll play this... no, wait, that doesn't make sense now / I can't afford it right now."

Impressions: Master of Orion: The Board Game was an impulse buy at Essen a few years ago, from watching some people play it at the booth. It's from Russian publisher Hobby World and pretty niche, as far as I can tell. But we very much enjoyed our initial plays, although we haven't played again in a while.
The game lasts 8 rounds, unless someone ends the game early - more on that in a bit. During these 8 rounds you will have between 3 and 5 actions (you can sometimes get more through cards) and try to get a good ressource manufacturing going, while also using the special abilities of the cards in your tableau. So it's a bit of engine building, hand management and ressource management thrown together in a not too complex, but entertaining mix. And it is based on the PC game series, which I, to my endless astonishment, have never played. Well, can't play them all, right? whistle
So we don't care too much about whether the theme is done right, but it is space and engine building and we really enjoy this game.
We played a close game and I was about to wrap things up and tie a neat ribbon around my win, when M. played a card that gave him a ton of victory points but plummeted his loyalty. "What happens, if loyalty is less than 0." - "No idea, you get no points for it, but what does the skull icon mean?" - "Ah, it says here, that the game will end after this round in that case. So if I do that now, then you won't get to run your ugly victory point engine, right?" - "I hate you, honey." yuk - "Yeah, I guess, I'll do that, then." shake
Well, I guess spending the night on the floor will teach him to never do that again! devil
(In case you're worried - I'm just kidding.
He got a nice blanket, promise!)


Meeple Verdict: meeple likes going there

Challenge Progress: Flavour of the Week, Diversity

~~~°°°~~~

Our pile of shame (i. e. the stack of unplayed games) is shrinking nicely, but we hadn't worked on this for a few weeks. So Sunday we unpacked one of those games that had sat unplayed for many, many months: Tiny Epic Mechs.

Board Game: Tiny Epic Mechs
(Image by BGG User henk.rolleman)

Elevator Pitch: Gear up you mech, load up your weapon and start unloading. If you manage to get your programming straight!

moment: BAM! BLAM! BOOM! Ka-BLAGH!

soblue moment: Huh? Beep, Beep, Beep, Beeeeep...

Impressions: I usually like the Tiny Epic games and I think they definitely got better at designing fun games in small boxes over the years and they always try to do something different each time.
So this time in Mechs, they went for action programming. They also use their Item Meeples to let you equip weapons to your little plastic guys. And there are a ton of weapons in this game that not only give you victory points in the end, but also let you equip your badass mechs to become even more badass.
Tiny Epic Mechs is a pretty fast playing game, there are 6 rounds, you will zoom about the arena, collect ressources, buy weapons and upgrade your pilot to mech and possibly even climb in the ultra cool, big, bad, super Power Armor. And you will try to tear your opponent to bits with mines, turrets and of course your own weapons arsenal.
Being blown to bits is not too punishing, though, as you will respawn and also don't need to stick to your programming for the rest of the round. The game ends after 6 rounds of mayhem and you will tally up points.
We are usually playing more non-confrontational in most games, except when beating each other up is the only objective in a game and so much fun! The price for attacking is low and so is the penalty for losing, but shooting nets good points, so it makes sense to do it.
I'm not quite sure who won the game, we were immediately flipping through all the other weapons once we finished and discussed why we had so much fun with this small, rather simple skirmish game. Good sign!

Meeple Verdict: meeple would like to go there again

Challenge Progress: Diversity, Magic Number

~~~°°°~~~

Another Thursday and we decided to start into a hot afternoon with another round of Just One. It certainly knows to entertain!

Board Game: Just One
(Image by BGG User EllenM)

Impressions: Well, what can I say? This game continues to be fun for everyone in the group. We played a full 13 word game this time and we managed to get 8 words right, which is... not record-breaking. But we had a few tough ones to crack, because some of the things you have to guess are really specific.
For example P. had to guess "Ramses". So we had pharaoh, Egypt, tomb and mummy as clues and he, of course, guessed the other one (Tut-Ankh-Amun). Well, 50:50 chance... If M. had been in the game, I could have put hamster, because he might have remembered I had a pet hamster of that name when I was a kid. (Yep, I've always been a nerd laugh.)
It feels great, when you get all different clues - but sometimes that puts some high pressure on the guesser. When everyone says "Ah, that should be doable", then you can start feeling really dumb, when your Schnitzel Coma affected brain just draws a blank .
Fantastic game, great for a laugh and lots of entertainment!

Meeple Verdict: meeple loves going there!

Challenge Progress: None

~~~°°°~~~

In the evening we didn't feel like video gaming, but felt the itch for some relaxed deduction. So Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases hit the table with another case for the Irregulars!

Board Game: Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases
(Image by BGG User korbas)

Elevator Pitch: Following clues and get your deduction muscles moving in Victorian London.

moment: We're so clever!

soblue moment: Are we especially daft today?

Impressions: This is a perfect game for an evening entertainment. You have total control over how long the game will last. We usually don't rest until we've turned every stone and got a good understanding of the main and all the side mysteries of a case. (We don't care about the scoring, we never deduct points for locations visited, we just add up all the points we get for right answers.)
The case we played was Case #5 "The Cryptic Corpse". Finding out the name of the deceased was an even tougher nut to crack than who the murderer was. There was a cypher to crack and everything was very, well, cryptic indeed.
The newspaper did not feature as prominently as in other cases this time, which was a shame, because we just love sifting through the newspapers and finding clever hints in there.
In the end we bungled the motive for the murder (even though it was pretty obvious and we had even identified it correctly at the beginning, only then getting sidetracked by all the other mystery stuff surrounding the victim). But we got everything else correctly, which was decent. And we spent a pleasant evening with a great game!

Meeple Verdict: meeple loves going there

Challenge Progress: Flavour of the Week, Diversity, Categories

caravancaravancaravan

What else is new? Not too much, I'm halfway through Metro: Last Light and expect to finish the game possibly over the weekend and am still in the first quarter of reading through A Blade of Black Steel.
It's part 2 of a trilogy and I'm very much entertained by the interesting and diverse cast of characters and the complex interactions of each one with the world, their own past and with each other. Really great reading and I think I'll make some progress here as well, taking advantage of the nice weather.

So that's it for this week, thanks for reading and as always: If you liked what you read and would like to say something about it - just drop me a line below!

meeple

caravancaravancaravan

Overall challenge progress:

Categories Challenge (Normal) COMPLETE
Categories Challenge (Hardcore) COMPLETE
67% Categories Challenge (Insane) thumbsup

Mechanics Challenge (Normal) COMPLETE
Mechanics Challenge (Hardcore) COMPLETE
61% Mechanics Challenge (Insane) thumbsup

Flavour of the Week thumbsup

83% Explore Diversity (100 x 1) thumbsup

Magic Number 15/25 thumbsup

76% Time Travel challenge 19/25 thumbsup

53% Books 8/15 thumbsup

44% XBOX360 games finished: 8/18
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Fri Jul 24, 2020 10:29 pm
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