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

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Gaming Goals Past and Present

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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It is a bit of an artificial construct, but the beginning of a new year is as good of a time as any to set new goals and state intentions for what to do during the next rotation around the sun.

Last year, I posted some gaming goals. Here is what they were and how well I did:

2016 Gaming Goals:

Assemble a Print and Play Game
Let’s mark this one up as a sort of success. My intention was to make Sharks and Jets, and that did not happen. However, I did print off Digital Mech Warriors , but I have not played it yet. I also spent a good amount of time printing off, cutting and laminating dozens and dozens of Federation Commander ships. I even played with a couple of them- so yes this one is a success!

No Unplayed Games
If it was not for getting new games, then this one would have happened! My wife and I have four unplayed games on our shelf of shame. Two of them we got this month though. We started the year with thirteen games, bought several, and we participated in two math trades. The other two we have to play still are from the Gencon math trade. All things considered, I feel like we did a decent job with this one.

Make Warhammer Invasion Decks

Since Warhammer: Invasion is done with new content, the goal was to make balanced decks that play well together. I did this one. . mostly. I did not get through every faction in the game, but I did get a several decks done. My wife and I play tested them and thought they worked. I did get stuck on the Dark Elves though. They have a big focus on control, and it is hard to feel like it is balanced when a deck is intentionally knee capping the opponent. This can be counteracted by watering the control down so it is less likely to go off, but then it feels like the Dark Elves are getting rolled if they can not get themselves all set up. I did not get through everything, but I got enough to feel good about putting a check mark by this goal.

Make Berserk Decks
This is a self contained CCG style game, that comes with pre-set decks, and some extra cards for customization. In 2014 I traded for a whole second set to make decks, but that did not happen. Big fail. On this one.

Play Imperial Assault Competitively
I wanted to do this one, but it was not in the cards for me this year. A local game store did host an Imperial Assault regional tournament, but it was on Sunday (the one time a week that I absolutely can not make work pretty much ever). At Gencon I did not want to sacrifice a whole day to play in the main FFG tournament, but there were several other event possibilities. However, they all sold out before I could get tickets to them. A game store about an hour away from me does hold a weekly Imperial Assault group. I had a meeting close(ish) to that area on the right day, so I intentionally hung around that area until the time. No one else showed up that night. Maybe next year. . .

2017 Gaming Goals


Play’em All (Again)
I will write a full post explaining the process we are going to use, but in 2017 my wife and I intend to play through every game we own. Back in 2012 we started this blog to document that very process, and we feel like it is time to do it again. We will once again be blogging our experience, and we will be using a different process/rating scale so that it will be different content than what we have done in the past.

Play Imperial Assault (someway and anyway!)
While I would still love to experience a skirmish tournament, I just want to play this game some more. I have had the Return to Hoth set for about a year now. I have used some of the figures in skirmishes, but I have not played the campaign. I really want to do that, but I am not sure how I could possibly get a group together. Maybe the much rumored and desired app will come out, and my wife and I can play together against the app. While I will not list it as a goal, I am really tempted to paint Imperial Assault. My biggest fear is messing up. If I mess up one of the figure packs, it is not a big deal. Re-buying the figure for $10 will be annoying but an acceptable loss. My fear is if I mess up one of the characters that come in the big box. I have painted in the past, but nothing to the detail level of Imperial Assault.

Finish Mythos Tales

In my last post I mentioned that this is one of my favorite games of 2016, and I do not want it to linger on a shelf mostly unplayed this year. Even if I have to brave the madness on my own, I fully intend to get through all of the cases in 2017.

Ticket to Ride 10x10

This is really my wife’s goal, but since I will be who she is playing it with it becomes my goal. She wants to play Ten different Ticket to Ride maps ten times. Her map list looks like this: USA, Europe, Nordic Countries, Switzerland, India, Africa, Asia, United Kingdom, Pennsylvania, and Ticket to Ride: First Journeys. She intends to do most of this on ios devices, so that will be easier. That is still going to be a lot of track to lay though. . .

Play a Miniatures game with my son
This is the hardest goal to complete because it is dependent on him.
When my son was just months old I bought The Games of War: A Treasury of Rules for Battles with Toy Soldiers, Ships and Planesto someday play with him. When he was two I also got a lot of Arcane Legions on the super cheap for the same reason. I think he is at the age where he now find doing this interesting, but I am not sure if he is ready for rules because the toy factor might be too high still. About half way through the year, I intend to start probing to see if he has any interest in this.

My goals track record for 2016 was spotty at best, but here is hoping for a stronger 2017.
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Fri Dec 30, 2016 9:27 pm
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Favorite Games of 2016

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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I know that most people have a negative impression of 2016 in general. I get that. In the realm of gaming, I am surprised that the impression is also somewhat dour. Listening to podcasts/videos it seems that a lot of people feel like 2016 was not as good as 2015 and 2014. I am very much in the minority then, because I think this was one of the best years for gaming. I really enjoyed a lot of the 2016 games I played.

I played 39 games release in 2016. This is down a lot from how many new games I played in 2015, but it is in line with most years. For whatever reason I tend to always miss playing on some of the biggest games of the year. This year is no different and I have not yet played Scythe, Terraforming Mars, Mechs vs. Minions, or Inis.

While I really like a lot of games from 2016, there were some not so good ones. The worst game released in 2016 that I have played is The Oregon Trail Card Game. This is a dreadfully dour co-op game that is the opposite of fun, and it is truly impossible at lower player counts.

That game was bad, but these are good. These are the ten games I enjoyed the most from 2016, in descending order for dramatic effect.

10. Captain Sonar
Real time games are a lot of fun, and team games are a lot of fun. This was proven very well by Space Cadet Dice Duel. This game is a complete replacement for that one though. This is a real time submarine combat game that delivers on that theme beautifully. In an eight player game each player takes a different role in teams of four. Each role feels unique and important. This game is extremely tense, and it is immensely satisfying to successfully line up a shot. The biggest issue with this game is it requires a somewhat dedicated quiet area. It also needs to have all the players understand how to play, because if players do not give orders correctly and acknowledge orders correctly confusion can happen quickly. I think this game would be an interesting experience playing with two players and the turn based rules.

9. Merchants & Marauders: Broadsides

What I like about this game is that it is a ship combat game that my wife will actually play. This is because this game removes any kind of tactical maneuvering that naval combat games typically have. It is instead replaced by clever card card play and hand management. What is really impressive is that the game manages to still feel very thematic. The downside to this game is that often it is over before it is over. Ship damage tends to make a ship perform worse, and after a few volleys one of the two ships will have a more clear advantage over the other. While ti is theoretically possible to turn this around, that is usually not what happens.

8. Secret Hitler
I really like hidden role deduction games, and I tend to seek them out. This is one of the better ones. This has a couple of good things going for it. Because of it works it is very possible for two non-fascists to enact fascists policies. This helps create a lot of doubt, but it then works really well because each time a fascist policy gets enacted, the liberals get more abilities. The game works really well, and even more so than games like Resistance or One Night Werewolf, this evokes a strong let’s do it again feel. The theme is a bit problematic for me. I tend to to play this game with high school students in a church setting, and I am not comfortable bringing Hitler into that. The Resistance is still my favorite game of this type, but this is a close second.

7. Islebound
The fact that this game is only #7 shows how strong of a year this was for me. I really enjoy islebound. It is fun to sail around in this game. This is a bit like a 3X game. It is full of exploring, expanding and exploiting. However, it is mostly devoid of exterminating. Players can take ports from each other, but players are not seeking to eliminate one another. I would happily play all of the games on this list, but this one more than the others feels a little underplayed to me. I keep bringing it to game nights, so hopefully it will eventually make the table.

6. City of Spies: Estoril 1942

I recently did a top ten revisiting 2011, and I put Blood Bowl Team Manager as my number one game. I like that style of game. While the game play is radically different, this game has some core similarities. Both games are about using abilities to win tactical battles to build a better team. This game is kind of quirky, it probably will not make many best of list, and will end up being one of those under the radar games. However, I like this one a good deal and it has gone over well when I have introduced it to others.

5. A Study in Emerald (second edition)
The United States release date for this was January 1st so this just counts as 2016 release. In most other years this would be my favorite game of the year. Heck, earlier this year when I made list of favorite games ever i put this at #12, and here it is only my fifth favorite game of the year. Crazy thing since March when I made my favorite games list I have played this more and I like it more. I love the pulpy theme of this game. I really love how this is a game with teams but only a single winner. I really, really love how this uses deck building in a new and fascinating way. This is a marvelous game, but it is not even the best Cthulhu game I have played this year.

4. Mythos Tales

This is the best Cthulhu game I have played this year. This takes the deduction and mystery solving of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective and improves upon it. The additional rules such as a time limit and item cards really improve the paragraph book system. What makes this game shine is the stories it tells. They are so good, they are pitch perfect on theme, and they are so engaging. Every time I have played this game it has been a thrilling experience and a real joy. There is a good chance that in 2017 I will finish this game and play through all of the cases, and that is the only downside of this great game.

3. Star Wars: Destiny
I could be wrong but I am going to call it now. In the first few days of January 2018 when I am writing my blog post for my most played game of 2017 this is going to be in the #1 spot. This is in part because my wife is also all in on this game. Star Wars Destiny has the same theme as Star Wars Epic Duels, which is what if the Star Wars characters fought each other. It may not be canon, but it is great fun to have Count Dooku and Kylo Ren team up to take on Han Solo and Admiral Ackbar. The rarity structure in this game is terrible, and I am really hoping they tweak it a bit (too many characters are legendary rarity). This is one of our favorite games of 2016 and will be one we are playing a lot in 2017.

2. Millennium Blades
This is such a weird theme for a game, and it plays like absolutely nothing else. However, this game works so well for me. Millennium Blades tries to capture the feel of playing a CCG competitively without actually playing a CCG. It manages to succeed at delivering this concept perfectly. The real time deck building portion of this game manages to capture the excitement of opening up a pack and trying to get that card. While it is simpler, the game also does a great job at getting something that feels like building a deck. There is also so much game in this box. I have played it multiple times and there are so many cards I have not seen yet. The two hour play time makes this is a bit harder to get to the table, but it is always a blast when it gets out.

1. Star Wars: Rebellion

I am a really big Star Wars fan. My Star Wars fan cred is strong, and I can back that up with tons and tons of useless trivia, hours of lost hours to watching Star Wars, and hundreds of Star Wars toys. Given all of that, this is the single best Star Wars game ever made. This game capture the grandeur of Star Wars perfectly, and it so very much fun. For instance the last time I played this Mon Mothma, leader of the rebellion, went to the dark side! Then Admiral Wedge Antilles led a desperate gambit to defeat an Imperial fleet and succeeded! Then Chewbacca led a wooke uprising on Kashyyyk! Perfect, it is all so perfect. I love this game. It is my favorite game of the year and it is one of my favorite games ever.
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Fri Dec 30, 2016 4:02 am
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2011 Five Year Look Back

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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I was thinking I wanted to do a five year look back post in 2017, and then I realized there was still time to do that for 2011 this year. In 2011 we had not yet started this blog, but this was the year that Game On Game Night got its beginnings. Back then Game On! With Cody and John was still going. The constant plugging on the podcast helped draw in a lot of visitors that first year. As a result of the game night I played a lot more new releases that year than I had up to that point.

At this point I have played a little over eighty games released in 2011. There are a few games from that year that I have yet to play. Most notably are Ora et Laboraand Trajan. 2011 is also the year that we started to hit that too many game threshold. Several of the games we have from 2011 are underplayed with less than 10 plays. In 2009 and 2010 we tended to get less games to the table more often, but in 2011 we transitioned to playing more unique games less often. Now that we are five years removed from 2011, here are the games from that year that I enjoy the most.

10. Penny Arcade: The Game – Gamers vs. Evil

This was part of the big wave that deck builders that came out after Dominion. Like many of those games this tweaked the formula just a bit. This has two currencies like Ascension, a common pool of cards like Dominion, and bosses to fight like DC Deckbuilding game. We have this game and it’s expansion, but we have only gotten the cards out of the box a handful of times. However, we have played it a lot on phones. Whenever we are out and about and want to play a game together this is my wife’s go to game. It is a really by the numbers deck building game, but deckbuilding is fun and this game is fun enough for us to play over and over.

9. Fortune and Glory: The Cliffhanger Game
Back in 2011, $100+ were not as common as they are today. The price tag really scared me away, but this was a game I really wanted. I finally traded for it, and this game lived up to my expectations. A long set up time and fairly lengthy play time keeps this game from getting played as much as I would like it to. However, the game creates a fun pulp story. I am really on board with the kind of games that Flying Frog makes, and this one is no different.

8. A Few Acres of Snow
I know this game is marred because there is a dominant strategy (which I do not know how to execute, so it has not been an issue for me). However, I really enjoy the system. This was the first game to use deckbuilding in a really unique way. I have not played this game as much I would like, but I have enjoyed it every time it makes it out to the table.

7. Discworld: Ankh-Morpork

This is the second Martin Wallace on the list, and this game is also one of our most underplayed games. Both my wife and I like it, so it should get played more. This game has a lot going for it. I love the way the card play works in this game, and every turn has interesting choices. I like that this card interaction is combined with area control, and finally players have their own unique victory condition.

6. The Castles of Burgundy
This is a game that we traded for a couple of years ago, and one of the major reasons for doing so is that I know several people who really like this game. I believe this is the highest rated game from 2011 that I have included on this list. Despite having a color palate that just screams bland, this game is a lot of fun. This game captures that feeling of building something as the player board gets more and more full. This is also the quintessential point salad as it seems everything that is done yields points. The challenge is just squeezing more points out of the game than everyone else.

5. Yomi
I got the complete first edition when it came out. I have played this game quite a bit, but only a handful of plays have been in recent years. That is a shame because I like this game quite a bit and it is a game that benefits from playing a good deal. I know this game has an online client but I have yet to really spend anytime with it for reasons. I think I have tried just about every game that tries to capture a fighting video game in board game form, and I like this one the best (though Exceed might be really close).

4. Ninjato

This is one of the first games I got really excited about after discovering on BGG. In 2010 I learned that the designer is local and I tracked him down at a local con and asked if I could playtest it. The game changed a good deal between then and it’s release but this was a must get game for me in 2011. I really like how this game incorporates push your luck mechanisms. I also think this is one of the most thematic euro games I have played. If my wife picked her favorite game from 2011, I am fairly confident that this would be the winner.

3. King of Tokyo
This is my most played game from 2011. This is a great gateway game that is very accessible to people. It mixes pushing your luck with beating people down in a very engaging way. In 2015 I qualified for King of Tokyo tournament and promptly lost in the first round. This showed me that while this game is accessible, it has a bit more strategic depth than I ever thought possible.

2. Core Worlds
Of all the games on this list this is probably the one I want to play the most right now. I really adore this game and it has been way, way too long since I have played it. The game’s play time is deceptively long which might be one of the reasons why it does not make to the table as much as I want. This is probably my favorite deck building game. I really like the space conquest theme and artwork. I love the progression of this game. It feels like players are making a march to the core worlds. It is so much fun to watch my forces grow and my space empire expand.

1. Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game

This is my favorite game of 2011. I remember demoing the game at Gen Con that year. I was really liking it, and a FFG person came by and said that there were less than ten copies left. I immediately got up and bought it. I really enjoy the back and forth tactical play of this game. I like that this game gives the synergy of a CCG style game in a much more manageable and accessible game. This is a game that I am always willing to play and it is a great time every time. I am happy that it got two expansions, but I wish they made one more to include some of the good aligned factions like high elves and lizardmen.
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Wed Dec 28, 2016 3:05 am
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Yonmoque (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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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. I was really struck that this was a campaign by one of the little guys, using kickstarter to fund their project as opposed to the bigger companies using it as a pre-order system. I may be wrong but I got he impression the games were hand made. It had few backers and did not exceed the funding goal by a whole lot. I found the whole thing kind of charming honestly and I went ahead and backed at one of the lower levels that gave a version with lower quality pieces. I actually backed for two of these since the price difference was $3. One of the reasons for backing this also is that we do not have much in the way of abstract strategy games. Did Yonmoque convince us we need at least one or did it confirm there is a good reason we lack these kind of games?

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 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 (it's OK)
My Thoughts: This game is in a really good sweet spot. It is fairly easy to grasp, teach, and play. However, this game has some depth and complexity to it. What really makes the game work is how quick it plays. It seems that one mistake in this game is often fatal, but that is OK because the whole experience is less than 10 minutes (and that is if both players are being slow and thoughtful).

Her Rating: 3.5 (it's OK)
Her Thoughts: I liked this game a lot more than I thought I would. it was actually a very pleasant surprise. This game does require a lot of advance planning, but the small board and limited pieces makes that much more manageable. The game plays so quick, that it created a real "let's do that again" feel for me.

Verdict
Combined Rating: 6.5
When the envelope came from Japan my wife was more than a little annoyed that it was a kickstarter game. She was especially annoyed when she saw the components (remember I purposely backed the low end). However, the game play won her over. This is a kickstarter success for us and this feels that abstract strategy niche in our collection.
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Fri Dec 23, 2016 4:35 am
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Snit's Revenge (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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It happens from time to time that gamers acquire games they no longer want and for various reasons some of those games are hard to trade or sell. This past summer at a gathering of friends we did a trade table to shuffle some of these games around. In this exchange everyone’s games were on the table and someone was selected to go first. They pick a game and who ever’s game is picked gets the next pick. This was my last pick, and it was when there very few options left. I knew nothing about this game, but it seemed to be the best pick of what was left. So what is a snit and are they fun to play with?

Game Overview
In this game one player plays the snits and the other plays the Blotomus. The much smaller snits are invading the larger snit trying to kick it's spark of life. Meanwhile the Blotomus uses its immune defenses to protect its internal organs from the kicking snits.

At the beginning of the game the Snit player rolls to see how many snits they will have for the game and the Blotomus player will hide the spark of life and place the decoy sploot bombs.

On the Snit's turn they may move as many snits as the want. All snits start outside the body and they can move into through entry points. There are two different size of paths in the Blotomus body. The large paths allow two pieces to move through per player while the small pathways only allow one. Each piece can only move from one organ to another a turn. After the snits move, they may attempt to kick. Each space in the body, representing an internal organ, has it's own piece there. The snits may attempt to kick these. Each snit rolls a die and hits on a 1 or 2. The snits can also attempt to attack the immune system pieces, but if they miss then the snit gets chomped and is killed.

On the Blotomus turn it can move it's pieces. It can then create new pieces. The Blotomus can create moveums, which if they move to the right internal organ will turn into the immune system pieces. The Blotomus can also make replacement pieces for the organs the snit's have killed. Finally, the Blotomus player can attack snits. The Blotomus hits on a roll of 1-3. When the Blotomus hits the snit and the immune system piece are destroyed.

There are dozens of optional rules as well, and each one of these gets a bit more ludicrous than the last. The game continues until the snit player wins by destroying a set number of organs (determined by the number of snits they start with) or by destroying the spark of life. The Blotomus player wins by destroying all of the snits.

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
: 2.5 (do not care for)
My Thoughts: This probably has the weirdest theme of any game I have played. The game feels like it was created by a salty Dr. Seuss who is out of cares to give. This bizarre theme does make the first play a decent enough experience. Unfortunately, this just does not have much game play behind it. The game is a very luck dependent dice fest. For instance the number of snits the player gets is determined by a random dice roll, and that number has a big impact on the game.

Her Rating: 2.5 (do not care for)
Her Thoughts: I am not really sure what I just played. It is a weird, weird game. The theme is weird but the game overall is a little dull. It was a unique experience but it is also one I am OK not repeating.

Verdict
Combined Rating: 5
The mechanisms of this game very much make it a product of its era. It's theme is so weird. I feel like I need to find a gaming hipster and give it to them, because they will secretly love this game while they claim they are just playing it ironically.
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Thu Dec 22, 2016 4:22 am
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Battleship Galaxies (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
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Edinburgh
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It happens from time to time that gamers acquire games they no longer want and for various reasons some of those games are hard to trade or sell. This past summer at a gathering of friends we did a trade table to shuffle some of these games around. In this exchange everyone’s games were on the table and someone was selected to go first. They pick a game and who ever’s game is picked gets the next pick. I did fairly well, with many of my contributions going early. This game was third or fourth round draft pick. I knew this was a starship combat game, and the biggest complaint was the game system was dead on the vine. It took several months but we finally got this game played. Did this game take off for the stars for us or did it sink?

Game Overview
This game is scenario based, as each player plays one of the two factions in the game. The ships used and objective is based on the scenario, and there are some options for customization.

At the beginning of the game there will not be any ships on the board. On a player’s turn they will go through the same steps. First each player will get energy. This energy is added to any energy they already have and is spent throughout the round.

Next comes the deploy phase. All of a player’s ships have a launch cost. In order to get the ship on the board this cost must be paid in energy during the launch phase. Both faction have a large battleship, and this ship can be deployed with smaller ships in it’s docking bays. During the deploy phase players will also draw a card, and they can play cards during their deploy phase. These cards could be crew, extra weapons, or other upgrades. These cards also cost energy.

Finally comes the main action phase. Each ship that a player has in play as an activation cost. Once this has been paid in energy, the ship is activated. First a ship moves. It can move up to it’s move. Ships can move through the space of other ships, as long as they do not end their movement on an occupied space. If a ship moves through or adjacent to an enemy ship then it could possibly suffer countermeasure damage.

After moving, a ship can then activate it’s weapons and fire. A ship can fire all of the weapons, but it must resolve them one at a time. Some weapons have an activation cost that has to be paid in energy. The target must be in range, and then dice are rolled. These dice will create coordinates similar to classic battleship (F2, J4, B7, etc). Each ship has a chart that shows if it is a hit or not. If it is a hit the weapon deals a set amount of damage. Damage first removes any shields the target ship has, and after that damage is applied to the hull. If at any point a ship has damage equal to it hull it is destroyed.

There are some cards that players can play during the activation phase, but once the player has activated all of the ships they want to or can afford then their turn ends. Once a player fulfills the victory conditions for the scenario they win.


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
: 2 (do not care for)
My Thoughts: I did find having to pay a deploy cost and activation cost interesting. There was rarely enough energy to do everything, so it did give the option for interesting choices. Rolling on the grid to hit was a little simplistic but it did create some excitement. My problem with the game is that it is too simple. Every weapon fires at a 360 arc, so facing does not matter. Other than big ships having less movement than small ships, all ships maneuver the same. This takes away nearly all tactical movement considerations. Once a range is reached, ships mostly just sit still and blast away at each other.

Her Rating: 2.5 (do not care for)
Her Thoughts: Of all the spaceship combat games I have endured this is probably the one I liked the most. I liked that this did not have the the elements of maneuvering and facing that tend to annoy me. I liked a few elements of this game like rolling to see if a weapon hit, but by and large I found this game to mostly just be boring.

Verdict
Combined Rating: 4.5
This game is a miss for us. The silver lining is that it is a starship combat game that we actually have similar opinions on.
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Tue Dec 20, 2016 8:27 pm
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Most Anticipated Games of 2017

sean johnson
United States
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Even though there are dozens and dozens of 2016 games I have yet to play, that will not stop new games from coming out. In 2017 I think a lot of what I will acquire will be games released in 2016. Sola Fide: The Reformation and Terraforming Mars are at the top of the games I want the most. In addition to that there are several expansions from this year that I would really like to get such as Star Wars: Imperial Assault – The Bespin Gambit and Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game – Heroes of the Resistance Expansion Pack.

There will be a lot of games and expansions coming out in 2017, but these are the ones I am most excited about-presented in descending order for dramatic effect.

10. A Handful of Stars
I know that if I wanted to get this game I would have to act quickly since it is currently for pre-order. I like the system of A Few Acres of Snow, and I have been intrigued by Mythtopia. I know this is a similar game but it is set in space, which is a big plus. I kind of doubt my wife will enjoy this game, so it will most likely not be one that we buy. However, if I get a chance at all to play this game I am taking it.

9.Bunny Kingdom

This was actually on my most anticipated games list of 2016, but the game got pushed back. I am interested in this game for several reasons. First it is a drafting game, but it also has an area control element with a board. I like drafting but I especially like that this is more than collecting sets of cards. The biggest appeal of this game though is that the designer is Richard Garfield. He knows a thing or two about making good card games, so I am excited to see what happens here.

8. Quests of Valeria
My wife and I both really like tableau building games. Even though we have several, this game seems to offer a lot we like. In addition to building a combo-laden and syngerisic tableau this game also features set collection (a favorite of my wife). The turn structure also uses the do two actions from multiple possibilities. Several Martin Wallace games we enjoy have a similar structure, so it seems this game might be a good fit for us.

7. Batman: The Animated Series – Almost Got 'Im Card Game

The Batman Animated Series is one of the best iterations of Batman, and I really like the series (we have them all on DVD). It seems a little odd to base a whole game off of a single episode of a 1990s cartoon, but it is a good episode. I play a good deal of social deduction games, and I really like the theme. The 5-8 player count and slightly more complex gameplay could hamper this getting played though, since I tend to play social deduction game with non-gamer groups. However, if the price point is low enough this could very easily be a 2017 impulse purchase.

6. Jump Drive
This is the first game on this list that I can guarantee we will be getting. This is related to Race for the Galaxy, so how could we not? I am not entirely sure what to make of this game, I know it is supposed to be quicker and faster than Race for the Galaxy, but it has the same theme and a couple of similar mechanics. I was surprised to discover that it is a retheme of an older game. Given how much we like Race for the Galaxy, it will be interesting to see if this lighter game holds or interest.

5. Tiny Epic Quest

We do not back many kickstarter projects. I think I supported three this entire year. However, this was one of them. I really enjoy Tiny Epic Kingdoms. The other Tiny Epic games are high on my want to try list. I really liked the style of this game. The game seemed to have a grand sense of exploration and discovery. I find the promised sandbox nature appealing, and the game seems that it will deliver on its big game in a small box promise. I just hope this game makes all of its target dates and ships in 2017.

4. Mr. President
This is not a kickstarter, but I am backing this game on GMT's P500 list. This is the first game I have pre-ordered there since Thunder Alley. I do not have many solitaire games and I do not play them often. However, the theme of this game is fascinating. This game focuses on making the policy decisions of the president. It puts the player in the seat of the oval office, and I think it will be an eye-opening and compelling experience. Right now this is slated for a Q3 release, hopefully that holds.

3. DC Comics Dice Masters: Batman
I really like Dice Masters a lot. However, the local competitive scene dried up. My wife was also more than happy with what we had, so given those factors it did not make much sense to keep up with the exhausting release schedule. We have sat out the past three sets, but I am very interested in getting this one because of the Batman theme. Most of my favorite superheroes and villains are part of the Batman family, so I am all about getting more dice for those heroes.

2. Battlestations: Second Edition

I played this game at Gen Con this year and I loved it. Completely smitten. The last game that I think I liked this much after playing it was Federation Commander (which is now my favorite game). This has a similar theme, but players take the role of an individual crew member. This game is an incredible RPG/board game hybrid. It has the mechanics of a board game but it has the openness of a sandbox game because the game uses a GM. The is a game where my heart says "take my money" but my brain says "hold on a second." The price tag is in the hundred dollar range for the game, and it is a game that really benefits from having a dedicated group. I already do not lack for games I love that are hard to find people to play with. I am afraid this would be one of those games. However, even if I just got to play it two or three times a year it might be worth it. I enjoyed the game that much.

1. Star Wars: Destiny Expansion
While spending a lot of money on Battlestations 2nd edition will be a hard sale to my wife, this will be much easier. We are both anxiously awaiting the re-stock of the Awakenings set so we can get more cards and dice. I am not sure what is going to be in the set, but I know that there will be more in 2017 They only scratched the surface of characters so far, and I am excited to see what is coming next. Since each deck only uses a couple of characters, this game will be able to offer up well known characters and not have to go looking for super obscure characters like Boshek the way the CCG did. I have no idea when the next set is coming out. I am fairly certain that we will be getting it when it does, and more Destiny is what I am anticipating the most in 2017.
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Mon Dec 19, 2016 10:35 pm
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Best Gaming Experiences of 2016

sean johnson
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Edinburgh
Indiana
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Gaming is primarily a social hobby and as such games can create good memories with people. I was particularly struck by this at a wedding this year. It was an outdoor wedding and I was sitting at a long row of picnic tables, and I would say I knew 80% of the people along that row of tables. Every single one of those people, plus the bride and the groom, are people I met through gaming. A lot of those people only knew each other initially through gaming, but here we were all sitting together as friends at the wedding of our friends.

This is one of my favorite list of the year to make as I look back at each month and select the best gaming related memory from that month.

January
The Game: Pandemic Legacy: Season 1
The Experience: At the beginning of 2016 I was very sick. I had an inflamed gallbladder caused by stones. It was fortunate I had the surgery when I did, because I found out after the fact that my condition was approaching life threatening. The week after surgery I could not do a lot, and during that time my wife and I tore through Pandemic Legacy. We completed all 12 months in 13 sessions of the period of seven days. Despite not feeling the best for some of those days it was a wonderful experience.

February
The Game: Euchre
The Experience: In February I was fortunate enough to go to Israel for a continuing education trip. After the scheduled touring was done for the day, I tended to head out to explore. However, on the first day that we arrived into Jerusalem that was not very feasible because it was raining pretty good. The Hotel lobby was fairly crowded, but I was able to find a small table in the corner and round up some other Hoosiers. It is practically a right of passage to learn Euchre if you are a native to Indiana. I spent that night playing hand after hand as we discussed our experiences on the trip up to that point. Somewhat related, on that trip I also found a game printed in Hebrew. That was one of the coolest souvenirs I brought back.


March
The Game: Dungeons & Dragons Dice Masters: Faerûn Under Siege
The Experience: It is fair to say that at the game night I attend, I am the biggest into dice masters. However, several people enjoy playing the game. Interestingly, it was the Dungeons and Dragons set that captivated people in the game group the most. This year when the next D&D set came out, several people dusted off their dice from 2015. In March at the game night we did a rainbow draft of this set. I ended up finishing second. This memory sticks out because this was the only kind of organized event I played in this year, and it was the only time this year I got to do a rainbow draft (the best way to play Dice Masters).

April
The Game: Machi Koro
The Experience: With two kids and the closest family members over an hour away, my wife and I do not get much extended time together. However, we planned a quick one day getaway to Evansville, IN. This is the town we met in, and it has a great BBQ place that had recently opened back up. The day we were in town just happened to be Tabletop Day. We played some games at a local comic book store, and then we stopped in at a Barnes and Noble to look for a book. We happened to be there right as there Tabletop day events were getting started. This included playing Machi Koro, with a prize for the winner. We played with two other people, and my wife absolutely schooled everyone. The final scores were not even close, and she victoriously claimed the pack of promo cards for the game.

May
The Game: Here I Stand

The Experience: In May I attended Geekway to the West for the second time. While I was there I got to cross a big entry off of my gaming bucket list and play this monster game. I got to play my preferred faction of the protestants. I played with a friend who I attended the con with and then a group of veterans who taught us the game. The guys we played with were good folk and pleasant to play games with. That was good, because the game took right around 13 hours to complete. At times I felt like I was on display at a zoo, as people would walk by to gawk at the people "still playing." I am very glad I got to play this game, and it is a very memorable experience. However, this will be my only play in my lifetime. For its length, the game was just not compelling enough. It was like three different games mushed together and the seams were often showing and fraying. I learned from this experience that I think eight to ten hours is my upper limit of how long I am willing to play a game for.

June
The Game: The Resistance
The Experience: Since 2010 I have volunteered once a week over the summer to be a camp director. The day before the campers come is always a counselor orientation day, and of course I brought some games with me. In the evening we played several games of Resistance, but the most memorable game was the next morning. One of the female counselors, with a very bubbly (i think that is the best words for it) personality had established herself as a bad liar. The previous night, all someone had to do was ask if she was a spy. If they held her gaze long enough, and she was a spy she would break down laughing after denying it. In the morning game after a first round fail she was under immediate suspicion. When confronted she absolutely did not laugh, and earned everyone's trust. You can see where this is going. In the end the spies win, and sure enough she was the spy all along. She picked up her spy card and dropped it like a microphone.

July
The Game: Federation Commander
The Experience: Like the past three years I ran a Federation Commander scenario at Gen Con this year. In July a couple of friends played it with me, and helped me work out the kinks. After making their modifications, the scenario was a success at Gen Con. I submitted the scenario to the publisher and they actually published it in one of their monthly newsletters this year.

August
The Game: Pokémon Trading Card Game

The Experience: I could honestly make a whole list of best gaming memories from August. Gen Con happened in August, but I also did things like play Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) for the first time. However, I think my best memories come from playing Pokemon with my son. He started to get really into Pokemon in July thanks to Pokemon Go. He discovered the cartoons and Netflix and he became very interested in the cards he kept seeing in the big box stores. In August we started with a trainer deck and walked through the script twice. However, by the end of the month he had worked up to theme decks. It has been a lot of fun exploring this game with him this year, and it all started in August. I am curious when I look back at this list a year from now, what will things be like? Will Pokemon have been a flash in the pan he forgot about or will we be knee deep in booster packs?

September
The Game: Mythos Tales
The Experience: For a wide variety of reasons September of this year was the third lowest month of recording plays in the eight years of recording plays. Mythos Tales stands out the most this month. I played it at a game night with three other people and everyone was really into it. The game was a lot of fun and the story was engaging. It was a great experience as we explored Arkham together.

October
The Game: Merchants & Marauders: Broadsides
The Experience: In 2014 we went on a Disney Cruise, and after that my wife started saving and planning to do it again. Despite some drama caused by a hurricane that threatened our trip we made it back on to the Disney Dream in October. On one of the nights, we sat at one of the tables at a cafe on the third deck (with the most amazing frozen mochas) and played this game of nautical combat. The actual sway of the boat gently reinforced the theme. It was a great time to do something we both love with the person I love the most in one of the places where she is the happiest.

November
The Game: Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective

The Experience: In my introduction I went on about the social nature of gaming, so it might be a bit odd to include a solo experience. Despite that this is my most memorable game from November. My church participated in Extra Life and sponsored a 24 hour gaming marathon. I knew for the first few hours in the morning I would probably be on my own, so I planned to play this game then. I played the third case, and I nailed it. I ended the game with 40 points which is really good for this game. What made this experience memorable is that I am in the extreme minority. Looking at the forums for this game there is thread after thread about how impossible and/or broken this case is. Yet, through a bit of dumb luck and a big jump I managed to solve the case.

December
The Game: Star Wars: Destiny
The Experience: This listing is very similar to my December listing of 2015. Last year it was Force Awakens and this year it was Rogue One. I got to the theater early with a friend to be first in line, and during our long wait I taught him how to play this game. It was a really good match as my Qui-Gon/Finn team barely beat out his Darth Vader/Kylo Ren team. It helped pass the time and build our excitement as we got ready to travel back to a galaxy far, far away.
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Sat Dec 17, 2016 4:25 am
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Stellar Conflict (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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Earlier this year when I pre-ordered Star Wars: Destiny it happened to be when Miniatures Market was doing a sale, and they had this game included as part of it. Since I was already spending a lot, I went ahead an added this game. I had played it about a year ago when someone brought back a copy from Essen. I enjoyed the game, and more importantly I thought it would be a starship combat game my wife would actually like. So was this a victory or did it just cause a lot of conflict?

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. 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 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: Spaceship combat is without a doubt my absolute favorite theme. I especially like games with a tactical/spatial element (show counters/miniatures as opposed to just a card game). This is probably the lightest and simplest a game can probably get as a spaceship combat game. The whole thing is over in less than five minutes. Yet, the theme is captured. The game is simple, it is silly, but it works. The biggest draw back is the set up and take down takes about as long as it does to play the game.

Her Rating: 2.5 (do not care for)
Her Thoughts: This game is fast, and the real time play is kind of exciting. I do not think this game is very good as a two player game. Some of the special powers, such as being able to fire twice, seems better than the others. Of all the games where facing matters, this is probably the one that I am most likely to play.

Verdict
Combined Rating: 6
She did not fully hate it, so that is a plus. This has a theme I really like, and it is close the fastest playing game we have. That means it fits a niche in our collection, and at least for now is worth holding on to.
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Tue Dec 13, 2016 4:49 am
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504 (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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About this time last year this was my most desired game and it was at the top of my Secret Santa wishlist. It was very exciting that I actually did get it that year from my Secret Santa! Unfortunately, it took many months to get the game played. Over the course of the past year I tried multiple times to get the game to the table, but that rule book was confusing and daunting. I finally got through it and I finally got my head wrapped around it. Now we have played a few variations is this game crazy genius or just crazy bad?

Game Overview
In this game there are nine modules. These nine modules are various game mechanisms such as pick up & deliver, production, or exploration. These different modules can be combined to create 504 unique combinations. The way that this is done is that three of these numbers are combined in one of three positions. This creates things like world 123. This means this game is a game where Pick up and Deliver is the mechanism through which points are scored, Racing is how players get money, and gaining Privileges is a mechanism that adds flavor and depth to the game. World 312 then is a game where gaining privileges is how a player wins the game, Pick up and Deliver is how the players make money, and racing adds flavor and depth to the game.

Every game type is played on a map made of hex tiles, and there are five possible board configurations that these 504 scenarios can use. Exactly how the game can be won is dependent on the module that is used.

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: 4 (like it)
My Thoughts: I have a weakness for buying video game compilations. These are discs where dozens of older games are put together in one package. Even though newer and better games are released I like those compilations because I love the sense of exploration and discovery. 504 is like the board game version of one of those compilation discs. I have read a lot of criticism about this game that it is a failure because none of the 504 combinations are one of the best games ever. From the combinations we have played all of the games were fun and worked mechanically. We would not play many of them over and over again, but re-playing the same scenario over and over is not the point of this game. The point is the sense of discovery and exploration. In that department this game delivers like nothing else. The biggest downfall is that it can be intimidating to learn.

Her Rating: 4 (like it)
Her Thoughts: I was initially very skeptical of this game, but I am very impressed by how it comes together. This game has so much variety, and I really like that. I have enjoyed what we have played so far. I am optimistic that more combinations are going to be just as fun, and I am excited about the possibility of exploring all these different game set ups.

Verdict
Combined Rating: 8
We both see 504 being a game that we will play a lot over the long haul. We both love that we can play this game 504 times, and every play is guaranteed to be unique. The sense of exploration and discovery in this game is incredible, and we are both looking forward to exploring the worlds this game can create for quite some time.
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Fri Dec 9, 2016 4:29 am
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