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Archive for sean johnson

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Manoeuvre (Game #55)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in a year. This is a game that I discovered very early when we were getting into board games. This game was a first for me as I backed it on the P500. We have had this game since 2010, and most of our plays were in 2010-2011. Is this a game we are willing to maneuver to the table more often?

Game Overview
Manoeuvre is played on an 8x8 grid that is made by putting together four 4x4 tiles. These tiles have various terrain spaces such as woods, hills, and villages. In this two player game a player will play the military of one of eight countries from the early 19th centuries. These countries range from powerhouses like France to weaker upstarts like the United States. The armies are represented by counters and each country has eight counters. Most of the game is controlled by cards. Each country has it's own deck of cards. On a player's turn they first discard any cards they do not want (like cards belonging to eliminated units). Next they draw back up to five cards. The third step is movement. On a turn a player must move one unit. Infantry move one space and cavalry move two spaces. Then a player may make an attack playing a card. To attack they must play a card that matches one of their units and that unit must be adjacent to an opposing unit. The opposing unit can play defensive cards (again it must belong to this unit). The attack cards have a die value like 1 D10, 2 D6, 2 D8, etc. The attacker rolls the dice and adds the total to the current strength of the unit. The defender takes their unit strength, adds any terrain bonuses and any defense bonuses from a played card. There is an extremely simple and completely non-intimidating Combat Results Table to check to get the results. If a unit is hit then it is flipped to it's weaker side, if already on its weaker side it is eliminated. After making one attack a player can play cards to supply or rally wounded units. There are also general that can be used to set up some massive damage combos by allowing multiple adjacent units to participate in a battle. The game ends when one side looses five of their units or both players run through their deck. If both players go through the deck then their is a way to determine who has the most control of the board.

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 a very interesting game. The use of cards and dice make this a very tactical game. However, the emphasis on movement requires a decent amount of set up and gives this game an eloquent strategic feel.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I like the use of dice and cards, but I dislike the use of charts in this game. I know this game is not hard, but it is hard to keep all of the modifiers and procedures straight.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: This game as an interesting theme that I find it very appealing. I like how this game has a historical theme, but is ahistorical. I think it is fun how this game allows for various historical factions fight.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: If feels like a war game, and it feels like maneuvering does have a big emphasis. The theme comes through.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: This game has multiple factions and it has multiple map tiles that can be combined in a variety of ways. This makes very single game different and equally engaging.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: There is a lot of variety in the factions, but on a surface level playing the countries do not feel terribly different. I am not sure how much replayability this has over the long haul.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: This game has an almost chess like feel to it, with a lot of back and forth. The pace feels slow and methodical but the game play length is short. This creates a very unique flow to it.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This is really reliant on getting the right cards. Not getting them can really slow down plans and make the game feels like it drags.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: I think this is game is a lot of fun. It is a very unique system. The rules are quick and light but the experience feels deeper.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I am not a big fan of war games, but this is one I will play. It feels like a real war game, and I think it s fun. That is a true rarity.

Final Score

74/100

This is a war game my wife actually enjoys so it is a game that we will be keeping for sure. This game does have an expansion coming out, but we are planning on passing on it. Even though we like the game, we just do not play it enough to justify spending more on it.
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Sat Apr 15, 2017 4:15 am
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La Granja: No Siesta (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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Back in February we played this game at a local convention and liked i a good deal. In March, we placed an order for mostly game expansions, but my wife did want to add this game to the order. So was that a good decision or should we have given this game a rest?

Game Overview
This is a "roll and write" game where players will roll dice and then work out the results on their own sheets.

In this game the start player will roll the dice. Then starting with the start player each player will pick a die. All players will eventually pick two dice, and then that will leave one left over that all players get to use. Players will mark their acquired resources on a resource board. Each die has six faces: Hat, coin, grapes, pigs, donkeys, and olive plus grain.

During the next phase players will spend these resources on a variety of the things. The hats are mainly spent to move up the siesta track. This track will allow the players to store more resources, gives points, and it controls the end of the game. The coins are mostly spent to get roof tiles. These provide once per game bonuses and can be worth points. A variety of resources can be spent to provide helpers. The helpers provide bonuses that can be very helpful throughout the game. The produce and livestock resources can be saved in sets for points.

Market carts can be loaded up with resources of all kinds in an exact order. The first player to do this for each type of cart will get a greater point bonus. Finishing one of these carts allows players to place a disc in the market which generates end game points. Finally, players may ship sets of three goods which provide points and a trade good which is a wild resource.

Players continue this until someone reaches the top of the siesta track. Then players go through all of the ways to earn points, and add up their total. The highest score wins.

Our Thoughts
As a reminder we rate games on our own 5 point scale. When our scores are added together, it is where we as a couple theoretically rate the game on the BGG 10 point scale.

My Rating: 3.5 (It's OK)
My Thoughts: I like this game more than any other game of this type that I have played. I like it because there is a lot to do, and it is all good. This creates some interesting choices. It requires players to have a general strategic plan but they have to keep that plan loose and tactical because the dice are unpredictable. We have not reached this point yet, but I am concerned that this game might play itself out. Since the scorepad that players write on is static, I fear we might eventually find a preferred strategy and gravitate to that every time.

Her Rating: 4.5 (like it)
Her Thoughts: I really like these kind of games. I feel like this is an especially creative game of this type. I especially like the way dice are selected back and forth so that on every turn all players are engaged. This really takes care of the down time most of these games suffer from. I felt like we were in need of a good, quick dice game that was not Qwixx and this game feels that niche perfectly.

Verdict
Combined Rating: 8
My wife is the one who waned this game so it is no surprise that she likes it more. This is a game we both approve of though. I do think my wife is right, this game feels a solid niche for us and because of that I think it will be back on the table regularly.
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Fri Apr 14, 2017 3:54 am
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Dominion (Game #54)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in a year. Dominion was the new hotness right when we really got into gaming, so we naturally got this game. We then got the expansions as they came out, and we played a lot of Dominion. Dominion is our second or third most played game together. However, in 2013 my wife really cooled down on the game. We barely played it in 2013 and 2014 then we did not get it out a single time in 2015. So has my wife warmed back up this game or are we adding a massive Dominion lot to our trade pile.

Game Overview
Is an explanation of Dominion necessary? This is the deck building game. Every game has 10 different kingdom cards available, three types of money (copper, silver, and gold) and three victory point cards (estate, duchy, province). Each player begins with a starter deck that has seven coppers and three estates.

Each turn a player will have a hand of five cards. If they have an action card the may play one, and then they may use any money they have to buy one card. Finally, players put all cards played, as well as cards unplayed in their discard pile and draw five new cards.

The kingdom cards are mostly the action cards the players can buy and they have a wide variety of effects. Point cards are needed to win the game, but they do nothing while playing the game.

The game ends when the province pile is depleted or three other piles. The player with 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: Dominion was the innovator that introduced deckbuilding, so a lot of game designs have re implemented, reiterated, or improved this concept. However, this an elegance to Dominion that is not matched. A lot of the next generation of deck building games got away with the Dominion turn structure and let players play everything and buy everything. However, Dominion's action, buy, cleanup structure creates for better choices. Deciding what action to play and what cad to buy are more interesting than play all the things and buy all the things.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I like basic rules of this game, but the expansions are a necessary evil for me. They give a lot of variety but they can add too much complexity and a set-up that has multiple cards that have a wall of text is daunting and tedious.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: The theme of Dominion is the weakest part, and I wish the game had been created with a better and more engaging theme. However, Dominion does offer a unique experience. I like looking at a set of ten kingdom cards, surveying the land, and begin to form a strategy to pursue that game.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The game is themeless, the artwork inconsistent, and individual plays are not overly memorable.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: The base game has a lot of replayability, but just a couple of expansions ramps that up to the point where this game has near infinite replayability.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: We do not have all the expansions and even then we can always have a different set up.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: If everyone knows how to play Dominion the pacing is lighting fast as players lay out their cards take actions, buy cards, and move on. I also like the race feeling of Dominion and there is always a tough decision of knowing when to convert from buying kingdom or money cards and go only for the points.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The pacing and flow is inconsistent, because it is possible to get cards that do not go together well, or they together in a way that has a slow and methodical build up.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: There are probably a few other deckbuilding games I like better, but Dominion is still a solid and fun game. Dominion shines above others because of the amazing variety and the strategic play it offers.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: A bad play of this game can really throw me, but this game is fun. Despite all of the replayability, this game is edging to being played out. I like playing the game in small and occasional quantities.

Final Score

75/100


In 2012 when we played through all of our games the first time this was one of the few games that we gave a perfect ten to. The star of Dominion has clearly diminished some and it does show it's age a bit. However, this is a game we still enjoy and it is one we will continue to play.
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Wed Apr 12, 2017 4:05 am
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Escape Room: The Game (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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Last month my wife and I experienced an escape room for the first time. Two things came out of this. First, my wife enjoyed the experience a lot more than I thought she would. Second, I thought it would be neat to create an escape room for the camp I volunteer to direct over the summer. I wanted the path of least resistance though, and I thought the chrono decoder that this game came with would work really well or what I wanted. If it worked that means the designers of this game would have created the puzzles for me that I could just find a way to implement. So for "research" purposes we got the game and gave it a try. Was this a breakout game for us or do we want to lock it up and throw the key away?

Game Overview
This will be spoiler free. This game seeks to take the escape room experience and package it as a board game. This is done in two ways. The first and most obvious is through the use of the chrono decoder. This device counts down an hour, and has four spots to put keys. These keys have many different markings that are relevant to the different puzzles. The puzzles in the game will lead players to figure out key combinations to use. If the players get it right they will hear a success noise. If they get it wrong they here the classic "wrong" buzzer sound, and lose a minute.

The second way this packages the experience as a board game, is that it includes a board. The different cases, will come with a paper board that represents the room the players are trapped in. All around this board are the various clues that players need to unravel the puzzles. Each case also comes with a variety of case specific components. There are also various cipher tools built onto the chrono decoder, and players are not sure at the beginning which ones will be relevant to their case.

The game also comes with clue cards that can be used at various points along the way to help players if they get stuck. Each case is divided up into three parts. In order to win the game the players must enter the right three key combinations.

The base game comes with four room, and there are expansion packs available. These rooms are themed. So for instance the base box as a prison break, a laboratory, a Mayan Temple, and a nuclear bunker. The retail price point works out to $10 per case, which is what the expansions sell for as well.

Our Thoughts
As a reminder we rate games on our own 5 point scale. When our scores are added together, it is where we as a couple theoretically rate the game on the BGG 10 point scale.

My Rating: 3.5 (It's OK)
My Thoughts: I like how this game went about implementing its concept. It feels a bit gimicky, but I think the chrono decoder works great, and I like how inserting keys is the driving mechanism of this game. This captures how actual escape rooms use a lot of various locks. I also think that the use of a board depicting the room is good. I like how this is an escape room game with an actual room. However, this does have a logistics problem as everyone is wanting to look at this map at the same time. This is problematic because I think the game requires three or four players just to get enough brain power looking at things to solve the riddles. Unrelated to game play, I think the price point of this game is perfect. Ten dollars is about what I want to pay for an experience of this nature. I have played Escape the Room: Mystery at the Stargazer's Manor and I liked this one more.

Her Rating: 4 (like it)
Her Thoughts: This really did give me a very similar feel of being in actual escape room. I was not expecting that at all, and I was pleasantly surprised by this game. The only downside to this game is that compressing a whole room to a table makes it a bit cramped and requires a bit of patience as components are passed and shared.

Verdict
Combined Rating: 7.5
I know that escape room games are the next big gaming fad, and this was an early implementer. We both like this game, and think it does a great job. If you are looking for this kind of experience, we both recommend this. As a conclusion to the introduction, I am going to be able to take the prison break room and adapt it. The clues on the board can be re-created and the chrono-decoder can still be used, so this year at camp this will be used to power an escape room.
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Mon Apr 10, 2017 3:44 pm
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Terraforming Mars (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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This game popped up on my radar because I heard a podcast say that it felt a bit like a Race for the Galaxy board game. In February we attended a local convention, and we jumped on the opportunity to play this game. I do not want to spoil our thoughts, but the second this game was available we purchased it. So just how out of this world do we think this game is?

Game Overview
In this game players are competing to get the most points making Mars a livable planet. Players will be getting points through a variety of means.

Each turn goes through the same steps. First players are given a group of cards (or they draft cards if you play with that variant). Of the four cards given, players may purchase the right to keep any number of the cards for three space bucks each.

Once all players make this decisions then the start player starts taking actions. On a player's turn they may take one or two actions. On a future turn the player make take another one or two actions. Once a player has no more actions to take, they pass. Once all players pass the game moves on.

There is a multitude of actions a player can take. A player may spend the required money cost to play a card form their hand. Some cards can be played by using a combination of money and other resources. These cards have a multitude of effects. Some provide resources, others increase production, and then others give possible actions. Some cards are worth points while others provide the means to continually generate points.

Players may spend heat resource cubes to raise the temperature, which is worth a point. Players may also spend acquired plant resources to place a greenery tile. This tile will raise the oxygen level, which is worth a point, and the greenery itself is a worth a point at the end of the game. There are several standard actions that players can pay money to do such as place an ocean tile, a city tile, or raise their energy production. As already eluded to players can also take actions based on the cards they have played.

Once all players have passed this moves onto the production phase. Unused energy is converted into heat, but other resources accumulate. Players get all of the resources they are currently producing and they are set for a new round.

The players control when the game ends. Once the temperature chart is maxed out, the oxygen chart is maxed out and all oceans are placed the game ends. In addition to the points scored while playing, players will score points from cards and from board position. Each city a player controls will get points based on how many greenery tiles are adjacent to it. There are also a couple of special scoring bonuses players can pay to unlock throughout the game. Whoever scores the most points wins.

Our Thoughts
As a reminder we rate games on our own 5 point scale. When our scores are added together, it is where we as a couple theoretically rate the game on the BGG 10 point scale.

My Rating: 5 (love it!)
My Thoughts: This game is so good. I love the theme of the game, and how it has a hard sci-fi feel to it while still being accessible. I love the mix of strategy and tactics this game has. Players need to know where they are going, but how they get there is adapted from turn to turn. I love the multitude of choices in this game, and how players can really build an engine. What is great though, is that there is not just one engine that can be built. This game also has a TON of cards so there is so much potential for synergy and combos. This game has a lot to explore.

Her Rating: 5 (love it!)
My Thoughts: This is such a great game. I love the sense of progression in this game. At the beginning there is so much I want to do and I am unable to do it all, but as the game ramps up my ability to reach my goals increase. The only real downside to this game is the length. It is a little long to play, but the time is worth it. This might just be my new favorite game!

Verdict
Combined Rating: 10
In five years of writing and reviewing games this is only the fourth time that we have given a game a ten. There is a reason why this game keeps selling out. It really is that good. We really love this game, and think it is worth getting.
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Fri Apr 7, 2017 2:42 am
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Pokemon TCG (Game #53)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games. Initially this was not supposed to be one of our games, as we started with getting a trainer kit and a couple of theme decks. Seven to eight months later we have fifteen decks. Technically this is my son's game, but at least four of those decks are ones that I bought on my own and just told him about it after the fact. shake Since then this game has shot up to be among my most played games ever. I found something enjoyable in this game, but does my wife want to catch them all?


Game Overview
As a customizable card game this requires each player to bring their own deck to the game. Players can make create their own decks, but this particular game is really good about having pre-constructed theme decks available.

Each player will draw their initial hand and keep it or take a mulligan. Once players have their hand, they assign a basic pokemon card as their active card, and then play other basic pokemon cards on their bench. The final setup step is players set aside six cards to be their prize cards.

Once the game gets going, player's turn follow the same pattern. They first draw a card. Then players can do multiple actions. They may play a basic pokemon to their bench, but each player can only have five benched pokemon at a time. Some Pokemon can be evolved, so players may also do this. To evolve a Pokemon the new card is played on top of the basic pokemon that evolved. Players may also play support cards which provide various effect such as card manipulation.

One of the primary things that a player will do each turn is attach energy to a Pokemon. Players may only attach energy once per turn, and the Pokemon have to have energy in order to do their attacks.

Finally, players make attack. To attack they announce what attack they are doing and how much damage they are doing. Some attacks have special abilities as well. All Pokemon have a weakness, so if the attacking Pokemon is of the energy type they are weak towards then damage is doubled. Some Pokemon also have resistance which can decrease damage. The damage is assigned to the opponent's active Pokemon. If that Pokemon gets damage equal to or greater than its HP then it is defeated.

When a Pokemon is defeated, the attacker will take one of their prize cards into their hand. The defending player must then assign a Pokemon from their bench to be their active Pokemon.

Play continues until one Pokemon does not have any Pokemon in play or one player collects all six of their prize cards.

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 very simple, but that is honestly part of the charm. It has CCG gameplay, but it lacks a lot of the complexity. It is impressive and an achievement in card/game design just how much depth such a mechanically simple game has.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game is very simple, but the game is competent. It is very straight forward, intuitive and easy to play without being boring.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: I was a little too old when Pokemon premiered so I do not have much connection with the theme. I find the cutesy style of Pokemon to be fine, but the card art is crazy inconsistent.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I have absolutely zero connection or care for the theme.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: Like most customizable games the more a player puts into this game the more they get out of it. We have only played at a casual level, but even at this level there is a lot to get out of the game. The theme decks are fairly balanced against one another so it feels that any deck could win against another. This makes it an easy game to keep coming back to.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I know it requires investing in multiple decks, but having several decks make it so that this game can be played again and again.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: At the casual level especially, this is the weakest aspect of the game. It is very possible to have a terrible hand, and terrible draws. This can cause a player to really grind to a halt. If both players are in the same position the game can really stall.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: It is really frustrating to not have energy and need it or need a pokemon and not be able to draw it.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: I like playing this game with my son the most, but I have also played a lot of games online against other players. The game is easy and straight forward, but it hits that CCG sweet spot for me while requiring very little mental bandwidth. This was a gaming niche I did not know I wanted filled.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game is decent, and if my son request it I will play it. However, there are several other games of this nature th I would rather play.

Final Score

67/100


my wife is right there are several CCG style games that we would rather play. This is one that will not be hitting the table between the two of us often, but we will probably be playing it with our son a decent amount.
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Wed Apr 5, 2017 2:37 am
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Forbidden Island (Game #52)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in a year. We got this game a couple of years ago for a couple of reasons. First, it is generally regarded as one of the better games for families to play together. Second, the price was right. I got this game for dirt cheap because it was severely ding and dented copy. A truck had to run over it and I needed a hammer to pry the tin open. My wife and I both have the same negative feelings on co-op games, so we did not want to put out a lot to invest into one. Two years in though, we have yet to play this game as a family. So should this game just be forbidden?

Game Overview
This is a cooperative game where everyone is working together to find four treasures and escape a sinking island.

On a player's turn they will take three actions. They can move from one location tile to an adjacent tile as an action. If they are on or adjacent to a tile that has started to sink, they can shore it up for an action. Players can also give a treasure card to another player as an action, and finally if a player has four matching treasure cards and is on a specific tile they can find the treasure.

After taking actions, players will draw two treasure cards. Most of these depict one of the four treasures that have to be collected. There are a couple of special cards, and there are also flood cards (more on those in a second).

After drawing cards, the player will draw location cards equal to the water level. Each location drawn causes that tile to flood. If it is unflooded it is flipped to flooded, and if flooded it is removed. Each time a flood card is drawn from the action deck the water level increases and all of the already drawn location cards are shuffled and put back on top of the deck.

Each player has a special ability and many of these abilities manipulate movement, which becomes important as the island starts to sink and becomes harder to navigate. If the players get all of the treasures and play an airlift card from the helipad the win.

If the helipad sinks, the treasure locations sink before the treasure is collected, a player sinks, or the water level gets to high the players lose.

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: It is a little unfair to say this feels derivative of Pandemic, because that is by design. This does a good job at getting the mechanisms of that game streamlined and delivered in a straight forward package for all ages.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The mechanisms of this game are very average. They are not special and they are honestly a bit boring.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: The components are the star of this game and they deliver the the theme. The island tile artwork helps create an engaging world, and the treasure pieces do feel kind of special.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The theme is the best part of this game, it does draw the players into a story the game is telling.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: We have beat the game, and I feel no desire to try again.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: No thank you, I'm good.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: This game has a similar issue to Pandemic. Sometimes it does not matter how well players optimize their turns the wrong bad card at the wrong time ruins everything.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game moves along really fast, so it does not out stay its welcome.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: I appreciate how this could be fun to someone, but it is not me. This game is either boring or annoyingly frustrating. There is no middle ground.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I just find this game uninspired and boring. This is not a game I want to play.

Final Score

53/100

There should be a caveat, that by and large we do not like co-op games. So it is not a surprise that we both dislike this game. This is probably a game that our son could play, but at this point that is a growing list. There are plenty of games we enjoy that we can play with him, so we are thinking about not messing with introducing this game to him and just pitching it.
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Tue Apr 4, 2017 4:07 am
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Stellar Conflict (Game #51)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in a year. A friend in my game group brought this back from Essen with him when it released there. I liked it and towards the end of last year, I tucked this onto a game order to get to the free shipping threshold. It has gotten a decent number of plays in the few months we have had it. Overall though is this a game we find stellar or are we in conflict over it?

Game Overview
In this game each player gets cards for one faction, and out of those cards they build their fleet of ships. Players build their fleet to an agreed upon point value. These ships are shuffled together. In addition to the included ships players will also put a cargo ship on top of their deck and a flagship on the bottom.

The main portion of this game is played in real time as players frantically put their ships on the table. The game can be played for a set time period, and all of the players have until the time is up to place their ships. The other option is that once a player has placed all of their ships the round ends.

The next portion of the game involves finding out what ships were hit. Every ship had an initiative rating. Starting with the lowest rating ships, all ships will shoot on their initiative. The ship cards have various lasers pointing out of them. These laser blasts are continued out from the cards until they make impact on what ever is in a straight line. There are three different strengths of lasers, and each ship can take a set number of damage. Some ships have shields on some of their sides, and if a laser blast hits the shield it does no damage. When a ship is destroyed, the player who destroyed it gets it for points.

Each time an opposing cargo ship is stolen one of the cargo pieces on it is taken. If the attacking ship survives, then the stolen cargo is worth a point.

Once all ships have fired players get points for ships they destroyed, cargo then have stolen, and their own cargo that was not stolen. The player with 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: This might be the strongest aspect of this game. The real time, real space ship combat is extremely unique. There just is not another game like this.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: Mechanically, I like the idea of real time games, and it does work here. However, this has some issues because it is impossible for the cards not to get bumped a little and that can be the difference between hitting and missing.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: It is really super light but the big space battle feel comes through. It is most evident right before the measuring starts and ship cards are thrown all over the table.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This does have a space combat feel to it, but it is a little abstract.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: This game does not create a "let
s play it again feel", but it also does not wear out it's welcome and it makes for a good opener or closer to a game night.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The super quick play time means that this is replayable because it ends quick enough not to feel tedious.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: This is the worst part of this game. Playing the ships is lighting fast, working out the results not so much. The over all play time is not so long, but the vast majority is working out what happened. Which can feel a bit tedious at times.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I like the idea of real time games, but playing them is a different story. The pace is just too fast and I get all panicky when playing a game like this.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: I like this game for what it is. It is not my favorite star ship combat game, but I do love the theme. It is fun to throw ships on the table and then see how it all shakes out.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game is fine, it just is not for me.

Final Score

65/100

Honestly, my wife likes this game more than I thought she would when I got it. I got the game because I wanted a non-social deduction filler game to take with me to game nights, and this game does fit that bill.
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Tue Apr 4, 2017 3:43 am
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Castles of Mad King Ludwig (Game #50)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in a year. I played this game at Gen Con in 2014 and I liked it enough that we bought if a few months later in 2015. At the time my wife was a little concerned that the mechanical similarities to Suburbia might make it hard to get both of them played. Turns out she might have been onto something as this game is rather underplayed by the two of us. So is this a game that we are mad crazy about or crazy mad about?

Game Overview
In this game players seek to get the most points by building a castle. There will be a certain number of rooms available, and each turn a different player is the master builder. The master builder gets to decide how much each room will cost. Other players then buy the room they wish to add to their castle, and the money they pay goes to the master builder. The master builder goes last and pays their money to the bank. Players take the room they purchase and add it to their castle. This game has a spatial dimension as the room must fit in relation to all of the other rooms already built. Players also have the option of adding a corridor, stairs, or taking $5,000 instead of building a room. At the end of the round, non-bought rooms have money added to them as an incentive. Cards are flipped to determine the size of the rooms that will be added, the selection of rooms is refilled, and the master builder passes.

The build rooms will score points and most rooms will also score bonus points based on what they are adjacent to. When a room is completed, meaning all of the exits lead to someplace else, the player will get an immediate bonus of some kind.

Players also have end game scoring cards that will give points based on certain conditions. It could be an extra point for every room of one type or it could be based having rooms of a same size. Finally, there are king favor objectives. These are public goals, and at the end of the game the person who best completed them will get points.

The game is played until their the deck of room cards runs out, the last round is played, and the player with 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: I feel like this game is built around a single clever mechanism, specifically how the master builder sets the prices and gets paid by other players. That is fine because that mechanism is unique, fun and works really well.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game is very clever and playing it is very intuitive. I like how the public and secret goals give me a lot of direction on how I should try to make the castle.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: The theme is trying to build crazy castles and that theme is delivered. The unique names of the rooms like "dirt room" really help deliver this theme.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: It really does feel like I am building a castle. It is neat to see these crazy floor lay outs come into existence while playing the game.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: My wife said it well, and I agree with her on the replayability. It seems like this game should have more as everything is different each game, but each play feels too much like the others. I know it is very subjective, but this game does not leave me feeling like there is more to explore like other games.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I am not sure why, but this game does not feel to replayable. Maybe it depends too much on turn by turn decisions. There is little control over getting what I need for long term strategy, so each turn is just taking the best tile that I can afford. Usually that choice is fairly obvious so nothing about an individual play stands out.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: This is the weakest part of this game for two reasons. First, it is so easy to end up behind the eight ball in this game, especially in multiplayer games. Very rarely has this game been close as it seems to click in place for one player while another is grinding gears. The game also ends too early. There is little control as to what tiles will come out so it is impossible to really plan. However, that does not mean I still do not have big plans for my castle and by the game end most of them are incomplete crating an unsatisfying experience.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game goes at a fast pace and it does not seem to bog down or slow up too much.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: This game has some good spots to it, but it also has some blemishes. While I appreciate the core mechanisms, the end result is that there are too many other building games I would rather play.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game is just OK. I do not dislike it, but I will probably always want to play something else.

Final Score

64/100


We are in agreement that this is an OK game. However, since we have too many games, we do not really have space to keep one that we find to not be good. This is a game we will be looking to trade.
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Mon Apr 3, 2017 5:47 pm
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End of the Month Recap AND reader question

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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In general, March was a lower month of recording plays. I noticed on twitter that this seems to be across the border, and several people I know played less this month. It also happened to be Spring Break for most school systems so maybe that had something to do with it? On the plus side, I did hit 100 unique games played this year during this month.


Most Played Game this Month: Four way tie between Dice Masters, Memoir '44, Pokémon Trading Card Game, and Ticket to Ride with three plays each.
Best New to Me Game: Escape Room: The Game

Play them all in a Year
Number of games played this month: 16
Best game of the month: Memoir '44 (95/100)
Worst game of the month: Scurvy Musketeers of the Spanish Main
We did manage to get a little more above pace, but we are still not that far ahead of schedule. We need to start being mindful of playing longer games so we are not ending with twenty games with 2 hour plus play times.

Our Top Ten Favorite Games
As we play through our games and rate them on a 100 point scale, we should get a picture of what our favorite games are. Once we are done, the ten highest rated games should be our favorite games as a couple. After this month here is how it stands:
1. Race for the Galaxy (97)
2. Memoir 44 ( 95)
3. Small World (89)
4. Dice Masters (88)
5. Lords of Vegas (87)
6. Alchemists (85)
7. Castles of Burgundy (82)
8. Thunder Alley (82)
9. Ticket to Ride (80)
10. P.I. (80)

Now for the question we have for you:
When we review games we have never played before this year should we use our old five point scale that combines for a composite rating on the 10 point BGG scale or should we use the 100 point scale we are using to play through everything else?
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Mon Apr 3, 2017 4:01 am
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