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Unlock! (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
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My wife and I have really been enjoying the recent wave of escape room games. We both enjoyed Escape Room: The Game and Exit. Given how much we liked those, I thought it would be a good idea for us to try the other major escape room system to come out. I had previously played Unlock! Squeek & Sausage, so we got the individual box of the formula to play through. So does this game unlock a lot of fun?

Game Overview
The intention is to be spoiler free, but in explaining aspects of the mechanisms we might make vague references that might be considered mild spoilers only in the right context.

Unlock attempts to simulate an escape room only using a deck of cards. It does this in two primary ways. The game will begin with a card that represents a room and the picture of the room will have numbers or letters that represent items found in the room. Each of these numbers or letters represent a card that can be pulled out. It is important to note that cards can also have hidden numbers.

There are several different types of cards. Yellow cards are locked items that requires solving a code. This code is entered into the companion app. Grey cards are clue cards of some sort. Blue and red card are items cards. It is possible to combined blue and red cards if it contextually makes sense to do so. The number of these two cards are combined and if that new number is in the deck then it can be revealed. If the items were not meant to be combined a penalty could result, and if they were meant to be combined then a new piece of the puzzle is revealed. Finally, there are green cards which are puzzles in themselves. When the puzzle is solved it creates a red number that can be added to a blue one.

The app also provides hints based on the cards. Each scenario has a unique story and its own parameters for escape. To win this must be done in 60 minutes.

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: To me, especially when compared to other systems, this feels more like a point and click adventure simulation than it does an escape room. It was still an enjoyable experience, and I would Unlock again. However, of the four different systems I have played I probably like this one the least for two reasons. First, the penalties in this game bother me a good deal. The penalties happen when the wrong items are combined, but this bothers me because given the scant information given in the cards it does make logical sense that two items could be combined, but they are not the right items. Essentially the game penalizes players for exploring the system. What is worse is that this is intentional. A lot of these penalties are the result of trying something that kind of makes sense only to get a penalty card. This feels like a giant "gotcha" and it is very off putting.

This goes to my second drawback, in that I feel like the puzzles in this game are by far the weakest of all the escape room games I have played. There are no manipulative elements in this one so it all comes down to thinking like the designers. In both Unlock games I played there was at least one puzzle that the reason why the answer was the answer was more or less "because is it". There was not any logical reason to assume it, and we only got it because the hint was very blunt. I know this is a lot of complaining for something I said I liked. Unlock is not bad, it is just I prefer the other Escape Room games for the reasons I have mentioned.

Her Rating: 4 (like it)
Her Thoughts: I think I might like Exit a bit more, but I did enjoy this game. I liked the sense of progression that the deck of cards provided. It was nice to slowly watch the deck get smaller as we advanced and I liked clearing out the cards we were done with. Until the very end there seemed to always be multiple cards out, and I liked that. It meant we both could be looking at something instead of fighting to stare at the same thing. I also thought the app integration worked really well.

Verdict
Combined Rating: 7.5
I think at this point my wife and I have decided that we are all-in on the Exit series. We are going to try one more Escape Room: The Game case to see if we will invest in that one. We are both up for playing Unlock again, but at this point I am not sure if we are going to buy in all the way or not.
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Tue Jun 6, 2017 4:45 am
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The Best Games of 2016 (That I have not played)

sean johnson
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I do not know how many new releases that most people can play, but it seems that I can play about fifty. I made a similar list last year at about this time and last year I also played fifty game released in the previous years.

It seems that every year miss out on some of the biggest game releases, and 2016 was no different. I have yet to play Scythe, Mechs vs. Minions, Great Western Trail, and many others. I looked through a lot of the 2016 releases and found the ten games released last year that I have not played and most want to play. I made a similar list last year, and I managed to play half of the games on that list. Hopefully, I am that lucky this over the course of the next year with this list. As always, the list is in descending order for dramatic effect.

10. City of Iron: Second Edition
In 2014 I wrote the best games of 2013 that I have not played and included the first edition of City of Iron. I have yet to play either edition of the game. This is a game that I would still like to experience in either edition.

9. Talon

I love space combat games, and this one really looks like a good one. Talon seems to have a lot of similiarities with my favorite game Federation Commander, but it is an even more accessible and faster playing system. If I ever have the opportunity to play this game I will take it. However, I just can not justify buying it when I already have multiple space combat games.

8.A Feast for Odin
It seems I have an especially hard time getting new Uwe Rosenberg games played. The last design of his I played was 2013's Glass Road I am not sure why I keep missing out on his games. I know a lot of people who own them, but they seem to be very scarce at game nights.

7. Mansions of Madness: Second Edition

I liked the original Mansions of Madness, but I agree that many of the complaints related to the setup and the role of the keeper were valid. The use of an app really does seem to address a lot of these concerns. I was a little surprised to hear reports of how long the play time of this game is, which I know is one of the reasons why I have not played it yet.

6. Automobiles
I am not sure how we missed out on this game when it came out because it really does seem like a game we would both gravitate towards. I think part of it is that in early 2016 when this game was released we had just played Planes, and that did not give us a lot of confidence about what to expect. Combining bag drafting with racing seems like a great mi though, and I would love to take this game out for a test drive.

5. Mystic Vale
This is a game where the timing just never worked out for me. Last year it was brought out at game nights multiple times, but I think every time I was either in the middle of or committed to playing another game. I have heard mixed and middling things about this game, but I do want to personally see how the card crafting system actually works. I think this was played at a recent game night, so I might still get the opportunity to play it at some point.

4. Star Trek: Ascendancy

I really love Star Wars: Rebellion from last year, and I would like an epic board game experience of that nature for Star Trek. I have a friend who has said that Ascendancy does for Star Trek what Rebellion does for Star Wars. That is high praise, and that has put this game very high on my want to play list.

3. Scythe
I want to play this game mostly just to see what all of the fuss is about. For better or worse I will confess that I am kind of turned off by hype (unless it is Star Wars related), so the insane amount of hype surrounding this game made me sort of ambivalent towards it. Even now, it seems most of what I hear about this game is just how great it looks or that it is great, without any explanation what makes it great. This game has climbed up to #7 on BGG so there must be something to it, and that alone has me curious to experience it for myself.

2. Via Nebula
I know value is subjective and fickle, but this game is about $10-15 more than I want to pay for it. On multiple occasions since Gen Con of last year, I have been really close to just buying this one. Martin Wallace has been a designer that has connected extremely well for my wife and I. The mechanisms and theme also sound like this is a game that will continue that string of personal hits for us. I am not sure if I even know someone who has this game. I am really hoping at Gen Con this year that Coolstuffinc has a ding and dent copy that gets it down to the price I want to pay.

1. The Networks

This is the game from 2016 that I have not played and most want to play. I absolutely love the theme, and it seems this game will have a great arc as my TV station grows. My impression of this game is that it is the rare euro where the theme and mechanisms work together well and naturally to deliver an engaging game that is also a fun experience. I wanted to play this game in an event at Gen Con, but the schedule to fit it in was just a little too tight. I am hoping though that at some point over the course of 2017. I can sit down to play the Networks.
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Mon Jun 5, 2017 8:20 pm
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Martian Dice (Game #79)

sean johnson
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in a year. My wife had actually played and enjoyed this game all the way back at Gen Con 2011. So in 2013, we secured a copy in a trade. Our first few plays had a major rule wrong, but we worked that and played it a good deal in that first year. However, this game has sat unplayed now for 2 1/2 years. Has that been an oversight or are we ready for someone to abduct this game?

Game Overview
In Martian Dice players will roll 13 six sided dice. Each die has two death race faces, 1 tank face, and then a face for three type of beings to abduct (chicken, cows, and people).

When a player rolls the dice, they have to set aside and lock any tanks they roll. A player must then lock all dice matching one of the four other symbols. The player may choose to stop and score, or roll any unlocked dice. Once a dice type has been chosen for a roll, it can not be chosen again. The exception to this are death rays, players can always add more death rays. When a player can no longer roll or chooses to stop they score.

A player must first have saved more death rays than tanks. If there are more tanks then the player scores zero. If a player has more death rays than tanks, then all of the other dice saved (chickens, cows, and people) score 1 point per die. If a player managed to get one of each type they get three bonus points. The first player to 25 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 is supposed to be a push your luck game, but often it feels more like a chase your luck game. It is not a matter of choosing when to stop. Getting just a few tanks means that every roll o the dice is a crap shoot that is just as likely to dig further in the hole than anything else.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I remember liking this game, but I can not remember why. The way it works it is just annoying. It is frustrating to roll through 13 dice, walk away with one or two points and feel lucky to do that.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: This followed Zombie Dice when it looked like dice cup games were the next big thing, but for me there is not much of a compelling experience here.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: Surprisingly the theme is there and comes through decently well.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments:The dice nature means there is replayability but there is no draw for me to get it back out.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The dice nature of this game means it has legs, but it easily gets overshadowed by pretty much anything.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: For what should be a quick dice game it absolutely crawls as people inch ever closer to the finish line.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: It is way too easy to bust in this game which just slows everything down.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: Rolling a handful of dice is intrinsically fun but that is where it ends in this one.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I just do not find much fun here.

Final Score

44/100

I was never big on this game, and my wife has really soured on it. I think there is a clear and obvious reason this game has sat unplayed game for so long. It will become math trade filler for sure.
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Fri Jun 2, 2017 4:01 am
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Can't Stop (Game #78)

sean johnson
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games. We had happened to both play this game in the Spring of 2014, and my wife especially liked it. That summer she was visiting her mom. Driving through the neighborhood, she drove past a garage sale, recognized the box, stopped, and bought the game for fifty cents. Since acquiring the game it has tended to come out a few times a year. Will this continue to be a game we just can't stop playing?

Game Overview
In this game the goal is to be the first player to get to the top of three of eleven different number tracks (that correspond with the possible numbers that can be rolled on two six sided dice). The more rare numbers (12 and 2) are the shortest, while 7 (the most likely to roll) is the longest.

On a player's turn they will roll 4 six sided dice, and use those dice to make two number combinations. On the first roll of a turn, they will put temporary markers on these two numbers. On the second roll (if rolled) a temporary marker is put on a third number. From then on out, the player make make as many rolls as they want, but they must be able to get dice to add up to one of those three numbers. Each time they do, the temporary marker moves up. At any point the player can stop. If they do, they put their colored marker down on that spot, and essentially save their progress. In the future any advancement on that track will begin from there. If a player makes a roll and can not advance a temporary marker, then they lose all progress from that turn.

When a player reaches the top of the track, they close that track down to other players. The first player to the top of three tracks 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: "Push your luck" is a mechanism that shows up in a lot of games but this is that mechanism distilled down to its purest form in a game.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I love rolling dice, and I love pushing my luck. This game brings it all together wonderfully.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: It feels like this should be a good filler and a good gateway game, but honestly is struggles in both those categories. Still it is always a pleasant game to play.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This is not a mind blowing game, but it is always a solid experience.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: This game is playing probabilities and rolling dice. Because of that every game is different and it does not wear itself out. This game has a classic, timeless feel to it.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The replayability is high, I do not see this one ever feeling played out.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: This is the weakest aspect of the game. It feels like this should be a quick filler game, but the play time can really drag out. This is especially true in a four player game when a couple of players do not understand how probability works or they just truly can't stop.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game often progresses at a much slower pace than I feel it should.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: This is a really solid game. It is honestly a great travesty that it is Yahtzee that hung around as the mass market dice game of choice and now this one.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game is a lot of fun. I enjoy it every single time I play it.

Final Score

79/100

At fifty cents, we got a steal picking up this game. This is not one we will parting with anytime soon and I think it will be a game in our collection for years to come.
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Fri Jun 2, 2017 3:36 am
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End of the Month Recap

sean johnson
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Our number of plays this month was bolstered by playing a lot of Race for the Galaxy and Star Wars Destiny.


Most Played Game this Month: Race for the Galaxy
Best New to Me Game this Month: Exit: The Game – The Secret Lab

Play Them All in a Year
Number of Games Played this Month: 13
Best Game of the Month: Star Wars: Destiny (95/100)
Worst Game of the Month: Eagles: Waterloo and Machi Koro (55/100)
We were gone for several days to attend a destination wedding, and then the next weekend my wife was out of town. This makes our second month in a row to be below the pace of 15 games a month, but we are still slightly up for the year.

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. Based off of feedback, we decided to use our original ten point scale when we review new games. However, we also created a 100 point scale rating that we are using this year, so that we can see how those games rank among all the others. After this month here is how it stands:

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. Lords of Vegas (87)
8. Glory to Rome (86)
9. Alchemists (85)
10. Millennium Blades (83)
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Thu Jun 1, 2017 8:56 pm
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Terra Prime (Game #77)

sean johnson
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games. We actually won this game at a local convention back in 2010. However, our first play through did not go very well, and my wife was in a downsizing mood so we got rid of it quickly. Over the course of the next several years though we began to wonder if we were too hasty in trading this game away. Especially considering that my wife learned she liked the pick up and deliver genre. we were delighted to get this game as part of a multi-game exchange in the Gen con math trade. We played the game shortly after trading it, but we did not manage to get it back to the table at all in 2016. Is this a game worth exploring still or are we going to trade it again?

Game Overview
In this game players are setting out from a space station to explore and colonize space. The game will end when players either use up all of the demand tiles of a certain color or go through all o the reward tiles.

Players begin with a ship that allows them three actions and there are a lot of actions that players can do. Instead of going through each and every action, I think it would be best to describe the feel of the game. The game begins with the players having to go forth and explore. As they do, planets will be found and players can colonize planets or even asteroids. Colonizing is one of the primary ways players get points in this game. The further away the colony is the more points it yields. Colonizing also gives the player a reward tile which can be a small bonus.

Planets will produce resources that can be picked up by the player and delivered back to the station for money. Completing demand tiles will also give a player bonus points. Money is then used to upgrade the ship. Many upgrades can only be purchased at certain types of colonies. These upgrades can give players more actions, more shields, more weapons, or more cargo space. It is also possible to get tech upgrades which are limited and are rule bending in someway.

As players explore they will encounter hazards. This includes asteroids that have to be dodged and enemy space ships which are hostile. When a player gets hit they lose shield energy. If they are out of energy they loose upgraded modules, and if they are out of those they lose points. Enemy ships can be destroyed for points or pacified by giving them goods. In either event a reward tile is taken, which can speed up the game's end.

At the end of the game collected money is converted to points at 1 VP for every 10 points. Players add up their points 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: The mechanisms and rules of this game work together fairly well. I do like how their multiple options each turn but only a limited pool of options.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I like the base mechanisms of exploring and delivering but there are a lot of hard to keep track of small rules.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: This does capture the space exploration feel decently well. The problem is that the experience, while mechanically sound, is not terribly exciting.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The theme comes through and I enjoy the core experience of exploring and delivering goods.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: I am concerned that this game will lack replayability over the long haul. The tiles are variable but there is not that much difference between them. I think the experience between each play will not feel terribly different.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I think the replayability is questionable. There is not a lot that is going to change between plays.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: This is probably the weakest part of this game. The limited actions means potentially tough choices, but it also means it can take multiple turns to accomplish something and that makes the game a bit slow going.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game feels a little slow.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: This game is decent. It really lacks excitement but it is kind of fun to slowly explore the galaxy and watch the colonies spread.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game is fun, but it is still kind of slow.

Final Score

64/100

This game is very much on the bubble for us. We do like the space exploration pick up and deliver game, but this game does seem to lack something that makes it special. We do have the somewhat similar Merchant of Venus, but it does have a longer play time. Right now we could go either way with this one.
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Thu Jun 1, 2017 4:19 am
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Machi Koro (Game #76)

sean johnson
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My wife and I are attempting to play through all of our games in a year. We bought this game in 2014 when it got its wide North American release based on the strength of the buzz it was getting. At the time we thought it was OK, but the game was very limited and the replayability was low. We were not the only one who thought this, and we followed the recommendation of others and got the Machi Koro: Harbor expansion. This greatly increased our enjoyment of the game. Over the past two and a half years or so this has actually got a fairly stead amount of plays. Will we continue to build this game into our gaming future?

Game Overview
Since adding the Harbor expansion we only play with those rules so they will be used in the overview. In Machi Koro players are racing to be the first one to complete their six landmarks.

Game play is very simple. Players roll a die (or two if they have unlocked the second one), and then see if any of their buildings produce money or have effects. This happens if the number rolled matches the number of the building. Blue building cards produce when anyone rolls their number. Green buildings only work for the active player when the right number is rolled. Red buildings allow money to be taken from the active player, and purple buildings tend to hurt all opponents, but only work on the active player's turn.

After all players collect money or resolve effects, they may then buy one building and add it to the their tableau. There are always ten different buildings available to buy, but the options change. When a player builds a card a new card is drawn from the deck to replace it. If the drawn card is already out, then it creates a stack and a new card is drawn so that there are 10 unique cards available. If they have enough funds they may instead build one of the landmarks in front of them. When built these landmarks also grant a special ability.

Once one player builds their last landmark the game ends and they win.

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 have kind of soured on the rules to this game, because I think there are some basic problems with them. It boils down to the fact that this game has a bit of a run away leader problem. Once someone gets out ahead a bit they tend to have more options of what to purchase. Many of the higher cost cards either generate more income or have a way to really mess with the other players. The purple cards are especially bad about this and if someone gets out of the gate fast they can buy a couple of these and really keep everyone else down. Every game we play also just turns into a race for the airport. This largest landmark has a crazy ability that can give a player ten money a turn. Usually once someone builds that, they are a shoe in to win in a few turns.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I really like rolling dice to produce resources. I wish more games used that mechanism. However, I do not like that this game has so many "take that" cards.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: It is fun to watch the tableau build up, and the experience is fun as long as you are not behind the eight ball. This is especially bad in multiplayer games because it seems there is always one person who just gets really hosed by bad dice rolls and not being able to buy cards on their turn because the cards they can afford are not available.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The city building theme is there, but the experience is uneven. Sometimes it is fun but other times it is horribly frustrating.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: There are a lot of cards. Actually when adding the second expansion there might be too many and the card pool is diluted too much. However, for us every game is a race for the airport so it feels very samey.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: There is replayability because there is a new city every time.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: This is the weakest aspect of this game. It is like a snowball rolling down the hill and sometimes it takes a long time to get going. Too often there are turns where a player rolls a die, gets nothing, can buy nothing, and then ends their turn.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The pacing and flow is very uneven and inconsistent.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: This is a game that has really dropped for me. Thanks to stat tracking I know that I have won six of the last seven games of this I have played, but even then in the last few I was more excited about the game being over than winning. For me this game is played out and I am done with it.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I think what it comes down to is I like the thought of the game more than the experience of playing it. I want a game like Machi Koro that is more fun.

Final Score

55/100


I like the word my wife used to describe this game the best. The experience is just too uneven. There are good ideas buried in here, but we feel as if the game has issues that weigh it down too much for us. This is a game that will go on the trade pile to make way for something else.
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Thu Jun 1, 2017 2:52 am
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My Gen Con Events and Plans

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This is one of the posts I look forward to writing the most every year because I am so excited with the expectation and possibilities. Today was Gen Con event registration. By and large we got the events we wanted. There were a couple of secondary events that we missed out on, but the only real disappointment is that we once again missed out on Memoir '44: Overlord.

The past two years I have had to miss out on My wife sat Gen Con out last year, but she will be back this year on Friday and Sunday. Gen Con will be a new experience this year for us because on Sunday our son is coming to Gen Con for the first time.

Gen Con is only 79 days away, and after registering for events here are the things I am looking forward to doing.

Thursday
It is pretty much a tradition at this point, that on Thursday I am going to open the morning by running a Federation Commander event. In the past years I ran a much bigger event
and my role was to just keep the game running smoothly. This year though the scenario is going to be an all vs. one scenario. I will take on the helm of a Klingon Battleship, and the rest of the players will be trying to take it down.

Once Federation Commander ends around noon I will spend the afternoon in the exhibition hall. The past two years before hand I made a small list of the new releases I am most interested in and went to those booths first. During this time I plan to do that again.

Then at 5:30, I have a ticket for a new game called Traitor's Tavern. The description makes it sound like it might be similar to Coup.

This will be followed up right away by Battlestations. I played this game for the first
time last year at Gen Con and I absolutely loved it. I have been looking forward to getting the chance to play it again, and this was one of the event I was most wanting to get into.

I am hoping to end Thursday by playing the
Call of Cthulhu RPG. This is an introductory adventure that is supposed to only take an hour. I am hoping it can deliver a demo of the system and a good short story in that time frame.

Friday
Friday is the day that my wife and I get to spend at Gen Con together. We are going to begin the day by playing Giant Catan. Catan is one of the games that we need to play this year, and we are hoping by doing an event we have a third or fourth player. During the early afternoon we will go to select booths in the exhibition hall together.

Several years ago we played a Crayon Rails game for the first time at Gen Con, and we have played multiple there since then We are continuing that tradition when we play India Rails. We have not played that map yet so that will be fun. However, we are the only people who have tickets right now. Odds are good one of the train gamer association people will jump in, so the odds are also good we will get trounced.

We are going to end Friday by playing Joking Hazard. This game is way, way outside the type of games we normally play. However, I love the idea of creating comic strips and it looks like this game has potential to be extremely funny.

Saturday
Since I will be on my own on Saturday I will be focusing on the kind of games I really like that my wife does not. I will be starting bright and early with an 8:00 AM event. Combat Infantry
 
is making its debut at Gen Con. This is the newest Columbia block game, and it is a WWII squad level game. I am looking forward to see how the block system works at that level. I think that the fog of war the blocks create will work really well.

I do have a couple of hours after that event free, and I am not sure what I will do. Personally, I am hoping the Gen Con math trade moves back to a Saturday morning meet up time because that would flow with my plans perfectly.

My big event on Saturday is Star Wars: Imperial Assault.
Last year I ran the entire Twin Suns mini-campaign, and this year I am running the entire Bespin Gambit mini-campaign in one sitting. I am excited about doing this. I think the event must have been in high demand as well, because it was full within ten minutes of registration opening.

Imperial Assault will take up the entire afternoon, but I will have sometime in the evening. Since I rarely play tabletop miniatures games, I try to get at least one in Gen Con. I think thy are fun to play, and when I play at Gen Con I get to use the really nice models that others paint. This year I am going to experience DeepWars. I do not know much about it except it is a minis-game, the time was right, and the models look neat.

Sunday
Sunday we will all be at Gen Con. After we attend the Gen Con worship service we have tickets to join the doctors for fun and logic in the lab. This will be a structured time to demo the Blue Orange line of Doctor games: Dr. Eureka, Dr. Microbe, and Dr. Beaker.


After that we will explore Gen Con through or sons eyes. We will take him around to select places in the exhibition hall, and I will probably show him some of the miniature games set up so he can see all of the cool terrain.

What he is must excited about in the afternoon is that he gets to make a "safety sword" and then he is doing an event called "Safety Swordplay with thee Bluebeard." I am not entirely sure what will happen there, but he will get to play with the sword he just made in a structured way and he will love that. This event goes right up to four, so that will be how we end Gen Con.

I think this is a solid plan for this year, and I am looking forward to it. What Gen Con plans are you most excited about?
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Mon May 29, 2017 5:25 am
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Yonmoque (Game #75)

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. Back in October I somehow ran across the kickstarter campaign for this abstract strategy game. The campaign was mostly to create a deluxe version with a very Japanese look to it. The board and pieces were visually compelling so I looked at the campaign. They did offer a low backer level for a simple hand made version. It included shipping and was dirt cheap. This also fit an unfilled niche of an abstract game. So is this a game that lines up for us?

Game Overview
Yonmoque is played on a 5x5 grid with an alternating color pattern and five unique squares (the corners and center). The goal of the game is for a player to get four in a row of their color.

On a player's turn they may place a piece or move a piece. To place a piece they simply take one of their unplaced pieces and put it anywhere on the board.

To move a piece a player selects one of their pieces to move. All pieces move like kings in chess (one space in any direction). However, if the piece is on a space matching its color it may move like a bishop in chess (Diagonally multiple spaces).

If at any point a player is able to get an opponent's piece(s) between two of their pieces on a line then the opponent pieces flip to their color.

In order to win a player must get four in a row by using a move action. Placing a piece to create four in a row does not do it. If a player ever gets five in a row of their color, then they 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: This game takes a simple premise and adds in familiar rules, such a chess like movement, to create something new. It is a simple and clever game.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The rules of this game are simple yet have depth.
I understand the rules, but this game is hard for me to actually play . .

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: Being an abstract it is themeless. The experience is so fast the game feels more like a time waster activity, but it is mentally engaging.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I find the experience frustrating

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: The replayability of this game is high. It has a short play time that lends itself well to a "do it again" feel.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game is replayable. I feel like it would take a lot of plays to make it feel worn out.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: This game is very engaging and plays in minutes this creates a fast pace that can pull players in.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I like how fast this game is, it never bogs down into a back and forth.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: I am not a big fan of abstract games, but I am glad we have this one. It is fun to play.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I am willing to play, bu I feel like I should do better than I do. This makes the game more frustrating than fun.

Final Score

69/100

Unless we ever run across a game we both like better, I think this game will be our token abstract game. It is highly portable and quick playing which means it will also make it off the shelf from time to time.
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Sat May 27, 2017 3:45 am
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Citadels (Game #74)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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Game Overview
In Citadels players are going to be building up the city by leveraging the powers of powerful personalities in the city. The game is played between two phases.

In the fist phase players will pick a role. How many roles are available and how many are revealed to all changes based on the number of players. In a two player game players will actually take two of these roles. These roles do a wide variety of functions many of them provide a money bonus based on the number of buildings matching the color. Others have "take that" abilities such as making a player lose a turn, taking money, or destroying buildings. Most editions contain some alternate roles that can switch out the basic ones, and in a two player game this is probably a good idea.

In the second phase starting with the #1 role and going up players reveal their role. They may then choose between either taking two coins or taking two cards and keeping one. Then in either order players may use their character ability or build a building.

Each building has a cost which is also how many points it is worth. There are five colors of buildings and there is a bonus for having all of them. The purple buildings tend to also have special text.

The game ends the round that a player completes their eighth building. Points are then added up and 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 really like role selection, and this was my first experience with it. The game still holds up.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: Most of the rules are good, but I do not like take that elements.

Theme/Experience
My Rating:
My Comments: The theme is stretched thin, and in the fantasy flight silver line version we have the uneven and odd art work does not help that. However the experience of trying to figure out the best role and guess what others are going to do holds up every time.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: I do not find this game particularly engaging.

Replayability
My Rating:
My Comments: This game has been around for years and is still going strong. I think that speaks highly to its replayability. This is a game that repeated plays does not wear out, and the inclusion of additional roles and cards helps increase that.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: The replayability is decent but it is not one I want to play often.

Pacing and Flow
My Rating:
My Comments: I think this is a real strength of the game. It has a great flow going from selecting roles to building and then back to selecting roles. This creates a good rhythm and the game is constantly engaging.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game is fast moving, and it has a good feeling of progress as the city gets built up.

Fun Factor
My Rating:
My Comments: This is a game that I think has aged very well, and I still enjoy playing it a good deal.

Her Rating:
Her Comments: This game is OK. I could take it or leave it though.

Final Score

75/100

This is a game that I like quite a bit more than my wife. We have only played it together a handful of times though because this game really needs four to five players to really hit the sweet spot. It's engaging game play means this still has room in a game night bag, and its small shelf presence means it is not hard to justify keeping it.
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Fri May 26, 2017 4:21 am
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