Too Many Games!!!

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

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Things We Learned in Playing all of our games

sean johnson
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Back in 2012 we created this blog to document our attempt to play through all of our games. We completed the task then, but this year we decided to try it again. It took 51 weeks, but we did manage to play through 166 games. Of those games we have either traded of currently have in a trade pile 38 games. We kept the majority of them, and our collection of games is tighter and full of games that we enjoy.

As we played through all of our games here are some of the things we learned:

Replayability Is Big For Us
The games that we chose not to keep is a diverse list. Some games on this list are obvious stinker such as Scurvy Musketeers of the Spanish Main (our lowest rated game of the project) and others are ones we did not like even though they have a lot of fans (7 Wonders Duelis the biggest example here) However, if there is one thing that the majority of the games have in common it is that we both collectively found the replayability to be low. One the flip side, some of the games we liked are very replayable. For instance, scenario based games such as Memoir '44, A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game, and 504 all scored high. We also really love games that have a mysterious "X" factor of being highly replayable and never seem to wear out their welcome. I am not sure what this factor is but games like Race for the Galaxy, Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King, and Glory to Rome are games that have it.

Games Have a Shelf Life
Every game we played through this year as part of this project is a game we played and wrote about previously (as a side note, in addition to playing through 166 games in a year we also reviewed 21 new games that we played for the first time this year). One of the biggest take-aways that games have a shelf life, and not every game even good ones, will not hold up forever. For instance, Saint Malo is a game we both enjoyed when we first played it. However, when we played it this year we were in agreement the game had nothing more to offer. It felt played out. Going back to replayability, some games have shorter shelf lives because of this. A good example is Steam Park. We both appreciate the mechanisms that drive this game, but we also both feel that every play through will be very same-y. I do think that since we play together so much with just two, that does shorten the shelf life of many games. There are games such as Castles of Mad King Ludwig that work better with more, but with two the market aspect brakes down quickly and feels like we are just going through the motions.

We Love Variability
For us the factor that most increases shelf life and gives a game replayability is variability. This is very clear in the games we like. One of the ways that a game can have a lot of variations is to have customizable elements and three games in our top ten require the players to bring their own deck to the game. We also like games that have elements that ensure there is a lot of variance from play to play. For instance Terraforming Mars, Small World, Among the Stars, and Millennium Blades all scored very high for us. This can be contrasted with games that we thought had low replayability, such as The Pillars of the Earth: Builders Duel where players see everything the game has to offer every play.

We Found Where We Diverge

Clearly my wife and I love to play games together. The fact that we have recorded 614 plays together this year is a clear testimony to that. There are a lot of games we enjoy together, but we also found where we really do not line up. For my wife the games she dislikes that I like are ones that are very narrative heavy. One of her most hated games ever is Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases. That paragraph book angers her. We also play A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game very differently. I want to read all of the flavor text on the cards and construct a grand story. She wants to roll dice and fight monsters. On the flip side, I have a strong aversion to games where I feel like I am punished by bad luck. This is highly subjective I know, and I think I feel it most acutely in games that involve drafting from a center row. Star Realms and Machi Koro are examples of games that really annoy me and my wife likes more than I do.

How Many Games Is Too Many is Unclear
The title of our blog derives from the fact that my wife thinks we have too many games. We spend all year playing them all, and if we wanted to ensure we played every game we owned once a year then that would be all we do when it comes to gaming. We talked a good deal this year about how many games is too many and we ended at a bit of an impasse. It did not make sense to pick an arbitrary number, because if every game we have is one we genuinely enjoy and would like to play it does not make sense not to get rid of it just because it crosses a threshold. However, if we have so many games that it means that some never get played, what is the point of keeping them? One of the things we did decide is we are going to implement a three year rule. If we do not play a game for three years, then we will get rid of it.

For those who are curious, and love lists, here are our top fifty games:

1. Race for the Galaxy (97)
2. Memoir 44 ( 95)
3. Star Wars Destiny (95)
4. Terraforming Mars (93)
5. Small World (89)
6. Dice Masters (88)
7. Isle of Skye (88)
8. Lords of Vegas (87)
9. Warhammer: Invasion (87)
10. Glory to Rome (86)
11. Among the Stars (86)
12. A Touch of Evil (86)
13. Alchemists (85)
14. For Sale (85)
15. King of Tokyo (85)
16. Sentient (84)
17. Century: Golem Edition (84)
18. 504 (84)
19. Islebound (84)
20. Command and Colors: Napoleonics (84)
21. Imperial Assault (84)
22. Millennium Blades (83)
23. Blood Bowl: Team Manager (83)
24. Castles of Burgundy (82)
25. Thunder Alley (82)
26. Tiny Epic Quest (81)
27. Star Wars Rebellion (81)
28. Insider (81)
29. Ticket to Ride (80)
30. Last Night on Earth (80)
31. Cottage Garden (80)
32. Las Vegas (80)
33. P.I. (80)
34. Deus (79)
35. Homesteaders (79)
36. Trenchzone (79)
37. Mysterium (79)
38. Quicksilver (79)
39. Hold the Line (79)
40. Guilds of Cadwallon (79)
41. Can’t Stop (79)
42. Codenames (78)
43. Merchant of Venus (78)
44. Core Worlds (78)
45. Great Heartland Hauling Co (78)
46. Lewis and Clark (78)
47. Dead Man’s Draw (78)
48. Bootleggers (78)
49. Frontline D-Day (78)
50. Toc Toc Woodman (78)
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Wed Dec 27, 2017 9:21 pm
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Divided Republic (Game #166- THE LAST ONE!)

sean johnson
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in a year (and with this game we are done!). I backed this game on kickstarter and it game in 2012. After playing this game several times in to 2013 it then sat on the shelf for two years. However, my wife and I have now played this game once a year for the past three years. Does this game get our vote for best election game?

Game Overview
In this game players will play one of the four political parties vying for the seat of the President in the election of 1860. The game is played over six turns, and in each turn each player gets up to five actions.

Player's will have a hand of cards that they will play on their turn. Cards can be played to play for either their number to place Political control cubes or they can be used for their events. The cards will have a number of 2 to 4 and this is how many cubes a player can add to the board. Each state has a number on it, and that is the required number of cubes a party needs to have control of the state. When placing cubes a player can place a cube in a state one to one for their first state. To place cubes in additional state on the same action, requires placing cubes at 2:1. Cubes are also placed 2:1 if another player already has political control of the state by having cubes at least equal to the control number and having the most cubes.

There are a wide variety of events that can be played and these events add a great deal of variability to the game. There are some specific events. Platform Speeches allow a player to pick a region, roll a D6 and then add or remove that many cuves from any political party in that region. Regional poll cards will have players check the states in the region to see who controls the states. The players who control the most states will be first in momentum which means they will go first next turn AND get an extra card.

The game typically ends at the end of the sixth turn. However, under a couple of situations South Carolina can secede and then everyone loose. At the end of the game player's will see who has political control of each state. As long as a player has cubes that meet the minimum requirement and has more cubes in a state than anyone else they will win the state's electoral votes. If these conditions are not met, then none of the major parties win the state. If a player gets 153 electoral votes from states they win, then they win the game. If a player does not reach this magic number, then of the top three players on the momentum track which ever one won the most states will win the game.

There are some extra rules such as locking down a state, strongholds, and some historical election conditions for some states, but this should give an overview on how to play.

Our Ratings
We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by both of us on 1 to 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.

Mechanisms/Rules
My Rating:
My Comments: This game is a bit of a mixed bag rules wise. I appreciate it took a card driven area control game and made it four players. It did this by introducing some novel concepts like locking a state down. However, this game can be mean. There are some cruel cards that target specific players and if one of these cards hits at the exact wrong time it can be crippling.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I like the base mechanism of using a card for the number of actions or the text. There is a lot of randomness to getting good cards though.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: The theme here is extraordinary. It really comes through, and a lot of attention has been given to details. This creates some fiddly rules that rarely come up, but the dedication to bringing out the history is laudable.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I do not know much about the history of this election, but the theme does feel strong.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: This game really works best with four. IT plays well with less, but the best experience is a full game. At that player count there is a lot to explore. With just two, it will eventually wear thin.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The card play in this game makes it tactical which means it does not wear out easily.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: The pacing and flow is tense in this game. Until a state is locked it is always in play. Often going into the end game it is not clear who will win.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I think it is uneven. Sometimes it feels that this game flies and goes fast. Other times it can really drag on.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: It is a little unfair and not entirely accurate to say this is four player 1960: Making of the President. However, it does kind of deliver that feel, and I am really happy about that. Especially with four this game is a blast to play.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: Even though this came can be mean, it is decent fun. It is not one I always want to play but I am good with getting it every now and then.

Final Score

74/100

My wife pointed out that this game is unlike anything else we have and she is right. We have played 1960 together, but this game has a few rule differences that make it shine a lot more for her. Because it is unique in our collection we will be keeping it.
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Tue Dec 26, 2017 4:45 am
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Lewis and Clark (Game #165)

sean johnson
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in a year. We got this game in a math trade in 2014. By the Spring of 2015 it had not been played, and we rushed to get it to the table to see if we wanted to hold onto it or if we were going to put it up in the Geekway to the West math trade. We liked it enough to keep it, but we did get a rule wrong. Gen Con and a whole load of new games soon followed. In just a few months I really did not remember how to play this game but I did remember we got something wrong. This meant I would have to re-read the whole rule book so it has sat unplayed for 2 1/2 years shake . I finally got that rulebook read and we finally played it correctly. So was this game a great discovery?

Game Overview

In this game players are racing to be the first one to reach the Pacific Ocean from St. Louis. On a player's turn they must take an action and then they may do two options things.

There are two types of actions a player can take. First they can play a card from their hand for an action. These actions are diverse, but they come in a few flavors. Several cards generate resources, some convert resources to advance ones, and several provide movement options which is important. When a card is played for an action it has to be powered. This is done by playing another card face down that will allow the active card to be used 1-3 times. It is also possible to power a card with Indian (the game's term not mine) meeples.

The second type of action are Indian actions. This is done by placing a previously acquired Indian meeple on the board. these areas provide additional resources and provide a guaranteed place for conversion to advance resources. There are some special spaces with powerful effects as well.

After taking an action a player can choose to buy a card. There is a row to get these cards from, and it requires various amounts of two different resources depending where on the row the card is located and how strong it is.

The second optional thing the players can do is set camp. Setting camp is the main to advance to the finish line. Several actions will allow players to move their scout forward. When they camp the player will move their meeple towards their scout. However, the scout might move backwards. Cards in hands as well as resources stored can cause the scout to move backwards. Once this is calculated the whole party moves and camp is made. The player then gets back all of their played cards.

Play continues like this until one player is able to set camp and reach the Pacific ocean and that player is the winner.

Our Ratings
We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by both of us on 1 to 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.

Mechanisms/Rules
My Rating:
My Comments: This is an optimization euro game for sure. It does have a clever system though. The mechanisms and rules work together well and it feels like there is some depth to explore here.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game is clever and I think it manages to stay accessible. It has a real puzzle feel, and I think it is engaging to figure it out.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: I think this game does a great job delivering on the theme. I like that deck of people cards are all historical. That adds a lot to it.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This is a mechanisms first game, but I am amazed at how well the theme comes through.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: We have not played it enough to make a good call on this, but I feel that this has above average replayability for a euro game.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: There are a lot of cards. They will not all come out so this is a game that will play out differently each time.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: In a lot of ways this feels a bit like a slow race game, and that slowness comes through. I do think the flow drags a bit for me.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: It is fine. I do not remember thinking it's pace and flow were great but it was also not notably bad.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: This is a solid game. I regret waiting so long to play it. I do hope we can manage to up the play count.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I really enjoyed this game quite a bit.

Final Score

78/100

It was clearly our loss to sit on this game too long. It was very much a casualty of having too many games. Now that we know we like it though, it should be eaiser to get to the table.
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Tue Dec 26, 2017 4:26 am
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First Train to Nuremberg (Game #164)

sean johnson
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in a year. We got this game in the Gen Con math trade in 2013, but we did not get it played until right before Gen Con 2014. At that time we were really pushing to have zero unplayed games. We played this, crossed it off our list and moved on. This game is somewhat complex with a lot of things going on. When we did not play it again immediately, I forgot a lot of those details. It then became the case that to play it I would have to re-read the rules. So the game sat unplayed for well over three years. Despite all that inactivity can this game finish first?

Game Overview
This is a somewhat complex game where players are ultimately getting points by using their tracks to deliver goods and passengers. The game is played over a series of turns, and each turn goes through the same phases.

First players gather their investment cubes (money). Each turn players get 12 and this can be combined with anything held over for a max of fifteen. Next influence discs are seeded in the six auction spots. The first major phase of the game is the influence auction. Players will bid to increase their influence in four areas. White influence is used to clear out troublesome land owners, brown influence is used to buy trains, red influence is used to interact with the red train line, and green with the green train line. Players can bid using their investment cubes on a total of two different influence areas.

When it is all said and done, players adjust their influence in the areas in a specific order. Where people appear on certain influence tracks controls what order they do the next two phases in.

In the next phase, a player can lay track. Track cost investment cubes, but influence can also be spent. Ultimately players want to lay track so they can get access to good cubes and deliver red passengers to red cities and green passengers to green cities.

After players have built they get to the train phase. First in order, players can buy trains. There are nine total trains available in various configurations and at various levels. High level trains give more points for passengers. Players will spend 1,2, or 3 brown influence to get trains. Players can also spend other influence at a 3:1 ratio. Players then can take turns loading passengers that can be delivered as well as goods.

Next players score. Good cubes are worth one point and passengers are worth 1,2, or 3 depending on the level of the train. Players save the things delivered because at the end of the game complete sets (2 different good cubes and two different colored passengers) are worth two points. Next players will adjust their profit/loss track. players get +1 for each yellow good, +1 for each passenger, and +2 for each grey good. They then get negative for each piece of track they have out. They move on the track positive or negative the difference. Where players are on this track determine who starts the auction in the next round. At the end of the game players also get where they are at as points, either positive or negative.

Finally, players can spend influence with the red or green line to get them to take over their lines. This frees up the limited line pieces and decreases over head.

A new round begins. There is a special scoring if some specific cities are connected to each other. After the last round, final scores and end game scoring is calculated. Whoever has the most points wins.

Our Ratings
We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by both of us on 1 to 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.

Mechanisms/Rules
My Rating:
My Comments: There is some truly interesting things going on in here. I like the spending influence cubes to go up on the tracks and then managing how to use that. However, I think the rules of this are a bit too abstract for the game's own good.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I find the rules to this game to be frustrating. There is a lot going on and it is hard to keep it all straight. Worse, this game does not make it obvious what exactly I need to be doing.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: The abstraction in the rules caries over to the theme, and this is fairly abstract. It claims to be a train game but feels more like a cube pusher.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: It feels like a train game, kind of I guess.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: There is some variability in the set up, so I imagine each play through will feel like a new puzzle. I just do not find that puzzle very engaging in the first place.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I am not really seeing it here.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: The game is really tight, and there is not much margin of error. I will mention here the set up is kind of a pain and time consuming.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game's pace is slow feeling. Even it does not go on forever this game feels like it absolutely crawls.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: I do not want to say this is a bad game, but the list of games I want to play over this one is very long.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: No, not very much fun. This game is boring.

Final Score

47/100


I feel like perhaps this is a better game than our score reflects. It is clear this is just a game that does not connect with us at all, and we will be trading it.
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Sun Dec 24, 2017 3:52 am
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Most Anticipated Games of 2018

sean johnson
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As 2017 comes to a close, I am starting to look towards 2018. Compared to previous years of making a similar list this one is problematic. There are several items on this list that all come out at the very beginning of the year. This compounds because there are several 2017 games such as Charterstone, Ex Libris, and the Last Jedi ships for X-wing that we want to get.

I am not sure how that is going to all shake out, but here are the top games I am currently looking forward to in 2018 listed in descending order for dramatic effect.

10. EXIT (Season 3)
Speaking of still needing to get 2017 releases, we have not yet gotten all of the most recent EXIT releases. We want to get those, but the next batch coming out in 2018 looks really good with a pirate ship and the orient express as settings.

9. Detective: A Modern Crime Boardgame

I am a big fan of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective. This appears to be a game with a similar concept in a modern setting. I especially like how this utilizes Internet searching as a mechanism. Maybe my ability to google can make up for lacks of deductive skill.

8. Mr. President
This was on my list last year, but the game got delayed. I have backed this game on GMT's P500. The concept of this game is so intriguing. It is a solitaire game where the player is the president. This is not an election game, but rather it puts the player in the oval office and tasks them with the delicate balances of policy decisions, public approval, and playing politics.

7. Commands & Colors: Medieval
This is the other game I am supporting on the P500. My wife and I have a great track record with the command and colors series. I want a Medieval combat game, so it makes sense to get in a system we know we will like. I know my wife would prefer this with little miniatures but I like the feel and look of the blocks.

6. Altiplano
I have only played Orléans once, but I liked it. This follow up by the same designer looks very promising. It has been a good deal since we picked up a big euro game, and I think this game will be a good fit. I like the sack building concept, and I think my wife will enjoy the efficiency of puzzle of manipulating resources.

5. Stuffed Fables

I did not get a chance to play it, but this game looked really good at Gen Con. The theme of toys coming alive and fighting to protect children is a neat and engaging one. I also like the storybook concept and how the book page becomes the map. My wife and I bot think this could make a good game to play with our kids, especially our son.

4. Spy Club
The concept of this game sounds neat. As already stated once I like deduction games, and it seems like this one does some neat and new things. It promises to have a stronger story telling element, as it is played out over a five game campaign. The part I am especially intrigued by is this campaign structure is repeatable and it will be different from the previous one.

3. Batman: Gotham City Chronicles
This game is going to give a tough choice in a matter of weeks when the kcikstarter begins. This game will be expensive, but it will also only be available through the kickstarter. If I want it, I have to back it. This game does sound good. I love the idea of an all vs. one Batman game. The system is proven and well regarded from Conan. I am leaning heavily towards getting this game, but a lot of it will depend on how thinks look once the kcikstarter begins.

2. Seventh Cross

This is a big epic game by Level 99. The last big epic game they made was Millennium Blades, which I love. There is not a lot out about this game, but what there is sounds amazing. It is a dungeon crawl game, but it uses a paragraph book to deliver the narrative. The artwork for this game is incredible and the world sounds like it will be fun to explore.

1. Star Wars Destiny Expansions
Last year when I made this list for 2017, my number one was also Star Wars Destiny expansions. I can not get enough of this game. The more dice and the more cards the better. However, this is why backing Batman might be iffy. The first expansion in 2018 is coming out in the first couple of months of the year which is when the kickstarter begins. I am not sure how many expansions will be coming out this year, but we are probably in for all of them.
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Sat Dec 23, 2017 1:46 pm
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My Favorite Games of 2017

sean johnson
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It is that time of the year for retrospective look back posts. I seem to be out of sync with the BGG zeitgeist. I thought 2016 was one of the best years for game releases ever, but the prevailing thought was it was just average at best. That means the prevailing thought this will be 2017 is one of the best years ever, because I feel like it was average at best.

I have played somewhere around 45 games released in 2017, and that is really good. I tend to only play around 30-35 new releases the year they come out (but I did play 94 new to me games this year!) I play a lot of games but I tend to always miss out on the "biggest" releases of a given year so I have not yet played games like Gloomhaven, Anachrony, Near and Far, or Azul.

For me 2017 was the year of the escape room games. In various escape room game systems I recorded 19 plays this year. I look forward to that staying consistent in 2018.

This is what I consider to be my favorite games of 2017, in descending order for dramatic effect.

10. Tiny Epic Quest

This is a game I backed on kickstarter. So far I have liked everything I have played in the Tiny Epic series. I enjoyed this game quite a bit. I do wish the game had just a touch more theme injected in it, but I love watching my party gain equipment. This game lives up to the big game, small box ethos of the Tiny Epic line.

9. Cottage Garden
This is a delightful game. I think it is just a chill game to play. I love how it has the mini-goals of filling up the plots. The satisfaction of completing one is the same as pulling off a Tetris. There are very games I can describe as relaxing to play, but this is one.

8. Ex Libris
I only played a shortened game of this, which is probably why it is not higher. However, I really did enjoy this game. I like the unique theme. I think I like it when games include a spatial element and the puzzle of building the bookshelf alphabetically and efficiently really makes this game. This game is near the top of my want list.

7. Sentient

At Gen Con I would have purchased Ex Libris if it was available, but since it was not I got this other Renegade game that I played. This game is extremely clever and there is nothing else quite like it. I am happy we picked it to be a 10x10 game this year, because I want to see how well it holds up to multiple plays.

6. Century: Golem Edition
Since getting this game at Gen Con, this has become my go-to gateway level game, and it is the game that I have played more than any other game on this list. I know this game will not integrate with the future spice games, but that is fine. The artwork is great. It holds up to multiple plays, and it is a great game to introduce non-gamers to.

5. The Chameleon
I liked the concept of Spyfall, but I found the execution to be broken. Unless the game was being played with people who had played it a lot then the easiest way to find the spy was to pay attention to who was studying the pictures the most. This game takes the same kind of concept and makes it a lot easier. There is a real challenge to hiding in plain sight, and there is a real challenge to not give it away. I have played more party games this year than most years, and this has been a stable of that.

4. Storm Hollow: A Storyboard Game

Including this feels kind of like cheating, because it really is not a board game. For all intents and purposes this is a highly structured role playing game, but it has a BGG page so we will count it. Playing this game with my son is some of the most fun I have had playing games this year. It has a whimsical world and it makes role playing accessible to everyone. My biggest regret is that I have not been able to play this game more.

3. Unlock! Escape Adventures
I played all three of the original unlocks, plus two of the promotional ones. These games do frustrate me that they seem to include "gotcha" moments, which I find annoying. However, of all the escape room games these probably get the best balance of puzzle quality and narrative.

2. Battlestations: Second Edition
I absolutely love this game. It is a wonderful mix of a board game with RPG elements. Players play the crew of a spaceship in scenarios. This is a game that shines with a high player count and probably a dedicated group. For this reason, if I bought it I do not think I would ever get to play it. However, it will be a priority for me to play this game at Gen Con every year.

1. EXIT: Das Spiel

Of all the escape rooms games, this series is my favorite. It is regrettable they made them consumable but overall I think this series has the best puzzles. I also think it has the best system. It easily has the best clue system, and I like the puzzle solving system a lot as well. While it is not the same, I do think this game does the best at delivering a similar feel. I know three new ones just came out, and we will most certainly be getting them.
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Fri Dec 22, 2017 3:45 am
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Homesteaders (Game #163)

sean johnson
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Edinburgh
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in a year. I won this game in a geekgold auction in 2010. We immediately liked the game. When we first got this game, I am not sure if this had the two players rules that are now standard in the rules. Because of that it only got sparsely played for the first couple of years. Finding the two player rules did not help it much. Despite both liking the game, it has been played less than ten times. The last time we played it was over three years ago. Are we ready to settle into playing this game more?

Game Overview
In this game players will be building buildings and then using workers on these buildings to collect resources, money, and points. The resources will be used to build more buildings, points are used to win, and money is used for auctions. In this game each turn will follow the same order. First, players will assign their workers to their buildings. Then players will collect their income (resources, money, or points) from their buildings. There are some buildings that give free resources with out the need for a worker. After income is collected, players have to pay their workers. Each worker requires $1.

Next comes the auction. This is not an open auction but instead it is on a track. It starts at $3, but once it hits $7 the next space is $9 and keeps going up from there. When a player is outbid they ten wait until their next turn to pass or jump back in at a higher spot. One player each auction will have to pass because there can only be one winner of each auction and there is one less auction than player. If a player backs out they move up on the "Railroad track" which gives a small bonus. Winning an auction gives the player a right to build a building. The auction tiles specify what kind of buildings can be built (there are commercial, industrial, residential, and special). Once the auctions are over, the winner of auction one builds and so forth. After the building, the round is over and a new round begins.

The game only last 10 rounds. Rounds 1-4 our settlement rounds. During these rounds only settlement buildings can built. Round 5-8 are town rounds, and round 9 and 10 are city rounds. The old buildings are cleared during a transition, so building on turns 4 and 8 are important because it can be the last chance to get certain buildings.

There is a whole market built into the game. If players can generate trade tokens then they can spend those tokens to buy goods or sell extra goods. In addition to that, players can take debt throughout the game. Unpaid debt becomes negative points. After round 10 the game is over and whoever has the most points wins. Points can be found printed on buildings, in point tokens, and in bonus points. The most points wins.

Our Ratings
We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by both of us on 1 to 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.

Mechanisms/Rules
My Rating:
My Comments: Even though this game has some age on it, it still stands out as a strong euro game. I really like how this is a tableau building game about building synergies yet it utilizes auctions and worker placement. I am also impressed with how the two players rules work. It does not quite introduce a dummy player but it does make the auction work for two players.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: There is a lot going on here but it all works together really well. Even though this game has a lot going on it is easy to keep it all straight because of how it all comes together.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: The theme cold probably have been nearly any building thing, but the Old West works well enough. The experience of watching my western town grow as the options in my tableau increases is great.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The theme takes a back seat to the mechanisms, but it is fun to build my own synergies.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: With only ten turns there is never enough to do everything, and there will always be buildings that are not used. Exploring the various buildings and the synergies between them gives a lot of replayability. Since all of the buildings come out during the game, eventually this will be played out but it will take a while to get there.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: There are a lot of strategies to pursue, but I feel like the building pool is too limited. I was there was more varability there.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: This is a strong point of the game. The game has a great flow to it, with collecting resources, doing the auction, building, and resetting. I also like the ten turn limit. This creates a tense pace. The fact that buildings are available for a limited time really turns this tension up.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: It goes at a good pace and has some deep decisions. I am surprised at how well the special two player work.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: Despite being underplayed, this game has managed to stick around in my favorite games list for years. I think that is appropriate because this game is a lot of fun and it is easily one of my favorite euro games.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: It is fun. This is a solid little game.

Final Score

79/100

This game is another example of having too many games. We both like this game, and we both think the two player rules work well. Yet we do not play it more. This is a bit of an undiscovered gem, and we should start doing a better job at showing off what people are missing out on.
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Thu Dec 21, 2017 3:37 am
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Hammer of the Scots (Game #162)

sean johnson
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in a year. I have a handful of war games that my wife does not like. Every war game that she had previously stated she did not like, we excluded from our list of games to play through this year. I did ask if she would be willing to pick one to play. She agreed, and because of the Scotland theme this was the pick. I first played this game in December of 2010, and got it weeks later. For the next four years it got a decent amount of plays, but at this point the game has been unplayed for three years. Now that this game earned its freedom from the shelves did it lead a successful rebellion in what my wife thinks?

Game Overview
In this game one side controls the Scottish rebellion led by William Wallace and the other side controls the English. The goal of the game is to have the noble houses be loyal to your side. This is a block game, which means the units are represented by blocks and while moving the opponent can not see the strength or composition of units. This game is played over a series of years, and each year players will play up to five cards. There are some special event cards, but most cards are a 1,2, or 3. These are movement cards and the number depicts how many moves a player can make. Moves affect an entire area, so for one move I can move all units in Fife for example. Units move either two or three spaces, but there are terrain restrictions that control how far a unit can more and how many units can cross from area to area a turn.

Which ever player has the highest card moves first (English go first on ties). All moves are completed and then battles take place if opposing forces are in the same area. All units have a rating (such A2, B3, C2, etc). The letter determines when they roll (A's first, B's second, and C's third). The number determines what they hit on, so on a B3 the unit will hit on a roll of a 1,2, or 3. How many dice rolled is determined by the unit's strength. A full strength unit will either roll three or four dice. Hits are immediately applied, and hit units are rotated one step down, meaning they will roll one less die when fighting. If a unit loses it's last step it is eliminated. When it comes to a unit's turn to fight in combat they can either roll to fight or retreat. There are rules to govern retreats, but it is worth noting that it is possible to retreat into an unoccupied territory. This means that sometimes retreats are more like advances. Combat can only last three rounds. If the attacker has not eliminated the defender, then the attacker must retreat.

At the end of the year several things happen. First all English nobles return to their home territory. If the home territory is occupied by Scottish forces then the noble converts. Then all English archers, cavalry, and other non-infantry units return home. Then all Scottish nobles do the same thing. Next castle limits are checked each territory can only support so many units, and any units in excess of this limit are removed (they go home). Finally, units can heal step losses. The amount of losses healed is equal to the castling limit. If the Scottish player has unused points for healing then they can use those point to bring new units in. This is the main way that Scotland gets reinforcements. Finally, England marshals new troops and puts them in play in England. The exception to this is if King Edward is in play, then Edward can winter in Scotland. This means that all English units can stay with him instead of go home even if this is over castling limits.

At the end of the last year whichever player has the most nobles aligned with their side wins. If at any point at the end of a year, one player has control of all the nobles on the board they win.

Our Ratings
We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by bo 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.

Mechanisms/Rules
My Rating:
My Comments: There are two things at play here. First, the block system. Columbia games uses a similar block system in all of their games and I think it is brilliant. It is simple, flexible, and it works so very well. I like how it is implemented in this game. The fog of war is great, as is the asymmetry. Without getting lost in the weeds this game bring alive an era of history.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: So I do not mind the basic combat system. I think the way the blocks are rotated to show hits and the way hits make the blocks weaker is neat. However, I do not like how that system is then used in this game. The victory conditions require a lot of back and forth and I just fundamentally do not like it.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: This game really captures the fickleness of the nobles. The history and theme really come through for me.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: Outside of watching Braveheart years ago, I do not know much about the history of this game. It does feel like a war, and the map is nice though.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: The game warrants a minimum of two plays to play both sides, and beyond that it begs for more plays to try things differently. The game offers a lot of tactical choices since the cards are different. However, I do think this game probably has a finite number of plays before it feels done.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The sides play very differently but after trying them both a couple of times I do not think this game has much else.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: This game has a lot of back and forth. The Scots try to fortify their position in the north, while the English slowly build up in the south for a big push. This ebb and flow sets the pace of the game.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This is so frustrating. The English have to go home every year, the Scots always retreat. This game needs more big everyone fights battle. The pacing and flow of this game drives me crazy.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: Under best case circumstances this is a game I will only play once or twice a year, and that is about right. I enjoy this game and I would love to play it every now and then.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I have a love/hate relationship with this game. It is a really good game, but it can also get really frustrating to play. This is one I need to take in moderation.
.
Final Score

60/100


Against my better judgement, I picked up Wizard Kings in the Gen Con math trade this year. It uses a very similar combat system. My wife found this system interesting enough, and Wizard Kings is missing all of the elements that my wife really disliked. If she is willing to give it a chance, I think it might be a better block game fit for us.
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Mon Dec 18, 2017 9:30 pm
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Fortune and Glory (Game #161)

sean johnson
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Edinburgh
Indiana
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in a year. I am a fan of Flying Frog games, so when they announced a pulp game I was instantly interested. However, the $100 price tag really kept me away. It was a bit more of a buy in than I wanted, so I was happy to trade for this in 2015. However, despite my initial excitement for this game I only played it twice in the first few months. However, the game has otherwise been unplayed for two years. So how much of a hidden treasure is this game?

Game Overview
In this game everyone plays a pulp era adventurer in a late 1930's world. The goal of the game is to get fortune by finding lost artifacts and selling them.

Player's roll for initiative at the beginning of each round. Since players are racing to locations this can be a big deal. Next players move, and to move all players will roll and move.

After moving, players will encounter the space. There are three types of spaces to encounter. If en route to a destination and the player is in an open space or sea space they roll a die and depending on the roll they will either get an event card (good!) or fight an enemy (bad!). Another option is a city space, which requires a player to draw a city card. City cards vary greatly. They could be an event, an enemy, or a card that can be played later. Some City cards are packages that have to be delivered for fortune.

The final option is a treasure space. At any point there are for treasures on the board. Each treasure requires passing a set number of dangers. Each danger will require a dice roll. How many dice rolled depends on the skill rating of the player's character. A target number is needed. So for example, if the needed target is Cunning 5+, the player would roll dice equal to their cunning skill and they need at least one five or six to pass. If a player passes the danger, they can choose to press on or they can choose to camp. If they pass on they draw a new danger. If they camp, they completed the danger and collect the glory. Glory is the currency in the game, so there is a bit of a push your luck element here.

If a player fails a danger, it flips over to the cliffhanger side, and on the next turn the player has to attempt to resolve the Cliffhanger to see if they can save it from certain doom. If the player fails they are knocked back and go back to their starting city. If a player completes all of the dangers they get the treasure, and they have to transport it to a city to sell it.

There is a lot of other stuff going on in this game. A Nazi Zeppelin can move around the map, Villains can start moving around doing their own thing, some treasures can be lost in the jungle, and others are in ancient temples that collapse. The game ends when a player gets to 15 fortune.

Our Ratings
We are using a custom rating scale. Each game will be evaluated by both of us on 1 to 10 scale in five areas. When combined, this creates a possible score out of 100.

Mechanisms/Rules
My Rating:
My Comments: The mechanisms are fairly similar to A Touch of Evil, which is fine. I like the idea of the cliffhanger cards in theory, but in practice I feel like they do not work all that well. They are essential to the game and the level of randomness is frustratingly high.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The rules are fairly simple, while still supporting the theme. I especially like the push your luck element of going on an adventure.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: The game exudes a pulp theme, but it is somewhat uneven. It is fun to go on adventures for treasures like the Crown of Loki or the hammer of the monkey god, but doing that can be all over the map because of the random cards. The events that make up the adventure can have no thematic connection. It is possible to conjure up a story, but at some point the lack of thematic narrative comes through.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game feels very Indiana Jones-ish. I can practically see a red line tracking my movement on the map.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: This game has a lot of variability, but this has a weaker narrative than most Flying Frog games so it does not pull me back as much.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The details change but the core experience does not.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: It is mostly fine. I do like how it has a race element. However, bad dice rolls and constantly failing cliff hangers again and again can become a lot of frustration.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: It can be good under optimal conditions, but a whole lot of bad dice rolls can slow the game down.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: This game has a great pulp feel, and it almost has a bit of a sandbox feel to it. Even though the narrative is not as strong it is still consistently fun to play.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: It is fun and it is decent, but it is a game I will probably not request to play.

Final Score

72/100

This is a fun game, and it is a great "event" game. However, my wife said she would rather just play A Touch of Evil over this one. I agree with her. While they are thematically different they evoke a similar feel and have similar mechanisms. Since we do not see the need to keep both, we will probably go ahead and trade this game.
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Sat Dec 16, 2017 4:52 am
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Imperial Assault Wishlist

sean johnson
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For the longest time, the app was the biggest thing that people wanted from Imperial Assault. Seriously, I subscribe to the game forums on this site and it felt like daily someone was asking for any news about the app. Now that the app is released I have seen more than one post from various people stating that they think the game is now complete, and the game does not need any new expansions.

Malarkey! This is a game where I unreasonable love for it far outstrips my availability to play it, and as long as they make new stuff I will probably get it. In fact I want them to make new things for this game. There is still a lot of the Star Wars universe to pull from, without some deep cuts like X-Wing has. Here is my wishlist for what I want to see in Imperial Assault, in descending order for dramatic effect.

5. More Integration
Since resetting the canon, the Star Wars story group is doing some really neat stuff. They are creating so many connections between various forms of media it really helps create a coherent universe. I know technically Imperial Assault is not canon, but I wish it was. I would love to see more of the connections that exist between other forms of media be in Imperial Assault.

For example, in Star Wars Annual #2, a character named Pash is introduced. Her only appearance has been that comic book. She is strong and tough but also happens to be an engineer. She would make a great Imperial Assault hero. Including a character like her are the kind of small connections with the larger Star Wars universe that I would love to see.

4. More Characters
In three through one I will mention other characters I want to see in the game. In addition to those here is a non-exhaustive list of other characters I want in plastic form for this game: Nien Numb (Lando's co-pilot in Return of the Jedi), 4-Lom and Zuckuss (the only bounty hunters from Empire Strikes back not in the game yet), Captain Rex (the old version from Star Wars Rebels), and Wedge Antilles (only secondary character to appear in all three original Star Wars movies).

3. Lothal mini-expansion
I have really enjoyed the small expansions like Bespin Gambit. I like how they have a mini-campaign that can be completed in one dedicated day fairly easily. I would like to see another one of these, and I think Lothal from Star wars rebels would be a great setting. Units that come in the box could be Imperial cadets, Rebel militia, and Weequay pirates. This would be an excellent reason to make more Rebel heroes available as add-ons like Kanan, Sabine, and Zeb. Grand Admiral Thrawn would be an excellent villain inclusion here.

2. Rogue One Big Box
There has been a lot of speculation that Endor will be the next big box expansion, but I think that Rogue One would make a better pick. Jedah would be a great setting for a campaign, and there could be an excursion to a coastal planet that is totally not Scariff. Coastal troopers and death troopers would be natural inclusions. Rebel Partisans who are not afraid to get their hands dirty could be a unique mercenary unit to include. For add-on packs the Rogue One characters like Jyn Erso, Captain Andor, and Chirtu Imawe would be good picks.

1. Skirmish Box
So far all of the boxed expansions have been campaign focused. I would love to see one that is Skirmish focused. I think a great source to draw from would be Star Wars Battlefront. A lot of the Imperial units are already in the game like jet troopers and heavy stormtroopers. However, Scout troopers could be added. A more combat centric Imperial "field officer" or Stormtrooper Captain would also be good picks. For the rebels heavy troopers, scouts, and officers could be introduced.

Taking the Battlefront idea a step further, I would love to see this hypothetical expansion be all Battlefront centric. Perhaps it could introduce a new competitive mode, where players can regularly reinforce and bring troopers back into play. Victory conditions would be more objective based than point based, and heroes would enter mid-game after certain conditions are met.
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Sat Dec 9, 2017 8:44 am
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