Games I played during National Games Week
Russell Grieshop
United States
Temple Terrace
Florida
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While I wasn't doing scheduled events for NGW, I did get the chance to play a lot of great games over the last week. Here's what I played, and with whom I played them. (Geez, I'm sure that is still not grammatically correct!)
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1. Board Game: Fjords [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:1137]
Russell Grieshop
United States
Temple Terrace
Florida
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I really enjoy this game, which I picked up at Essen... it is one of my favorites (that made it home so far) from that trip. I played this with my wife, Shelly. She is a geographer, and I was really excited about her playing and liking this game. She did enjoy it - we've played several rounds, but not three at one time. Currently she's leading me by 2 points in the rounds we've played so far.
Players: Shelly, Russell
Winner: Shelly
 
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2. Board Game: Too Many Cooks [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:2637]
Russell Grieshop
United States
Temple Terrace
Florida
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I played Too Many Cooks the other night. I really like trick-taking games, and despite frequently losing them, I can't seem to get enough of them. Fortunately in this trick-taking game, I really only lose for myself, not my team, so it isn't as painful as it might normally be. (Someday I'd love to learn to play Bridge, but since someone would have to team with me, they'd start with a big handicap!) It didn't help that I sat behind Frank in turn order, and twice managed to match his menu choice for the round.

Players: Ryan, Jon, Moon, Stacey, Frank, and Russell
Winner: Frank
 
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3. Board Game: Bohnanza [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:378]
Russell Grieshop
United States
Temple Terrace
Florida
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I always like a chance to play Bohnanza - especially with people who haven't played before. The new players were especially funny to watch, as they negotiated and traded and wheeled and dealed. It was a close game, and at points I thought I was ahead, but it didn't work out that way.

Players: Jon, Moon, Ryan, Frank, Russell
Winner: Frank
 
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4. Board Game: Shadows over Camelot [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:330]
Russell Grieshop
United States
Temple Terrace
Florida
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Despite buying this almost immediately after it was released, I hadn't had a chance to actually play this cool cooperative game until BGG.Con. There we played with a full set of all the knights (but not Bedivere), and despite a good effort by the Traitor, ended up scoring a win for the Knights. This game didn't work out that way - the traitor was unmasked mid-game, and did manage to thwart us (with the seige engines a-pounding at our gates). Naive me, I didn't even think there *was* a Traitor. Frank even sacrificed his Knight to try and save us, but it was too little too late.

One thought occurred to me - once you know someone is the traitor, is there any real advantage to unmasking him? Why not leave them be, so that they don't get their additional power? One knight just decided to use his heroic action to accuse, but perhaps we shouldn't have? I know the traitor's taunting had a negative impact on us.

Players: Ryan, Jon, Moon, Frank, Russell
Winner: Ryan (as the Traitor)
 
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5. Board Game: Diamant [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:633]
Russell Grieshop
United States
Temple Terrace
Florida
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Another one I picked up at Essen, and didn't mail home. (Man, oh man, I sure hope my package I mailed from Europe makes it home!). I read a lot of the buzz about this game when it was first released, and knew I wanted a copy. I've had a lot of fun showing this to people, and actually got to play it twice over the last week. I know it isn't particularly challenging, but that doesn't mean it isn't fun.

Game #1:
Players: Ryan, Frank, Russell (small group but still okay)
Winner: Frank (he sure wins a lot)

Game #2:
Players: Bill, Beverly, Michael, and Russell
Winner: Russell (wow!)
 
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6. Board Game: Saint Petersburg [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:239]
Russell Grieshop
United States
Temple Terrace
Florida
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I'd read a lot about this game when it was being hotly discussed, and one of the things I recalled was someone describing it as a game he liked to play with his spouse. I know Shelly isn't always eager to try new games, but thought this one would work for her, so we played a two player game. I think she liked it - I know I did - for my first play, it sure felt like a lot was going on. Naturally, I lost... I got distracted by how much money she was making, and forgot to diversify in aristocrats.

Players: Shelly, Russell
Winner: Shelly

I also got this out again over the weekend, and tried a four player game. This time, I was way behind the curve, and never seemed to be able to get enough money. I was surprised by Michael's strategy of not buying many buildings, but then again, he'd played a time or two before, so maybe he knew something? It really paid off for him when he counted up all of those aristocrats, several of which he bought in the last round. We couldn't stop him, as we didn't have the money to buy them ourselves. We'll do better next time!

Players: Bill, Beverly, Michael, and Russell
Winner: Michael (by a long way)
 
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7. Board Game: Byzantium [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:1594]
Russell Grieshop
United States
Temple Terrace
Florida
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I actually brought this game (and the next) back from Essen for two friends, but never got a chance to play it at Essen or at BGG.con. I'd heard a lot of good buzz, and went over to play a game on Friday. My first game, and I did okay, mostly because Frank forgot to invest in the Arab score enough. I think I'd have to lose this one a lot before it began to make more sense to me, but it was challenging and fun.

Players: Jon, Frank, Russell
Winner: Jon
 
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8. Board Game: Caylus [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:46]
 
Russell Grieshop
United States
Temple Terrace
Florida
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The other game I brought back for a friend from Essen, and the other one I didn't play there or at BGG.con. Jon left and Joe arrived, so we switched games. This one seems very involved, with lots of moving parts, but I like the way the it worked and enjoyed the play quite a bit. I kept getting blocked (or it seemed to me that I did) along the road, so I concentrated on earning favors, thinking I'd sneak in and grab a lot of gold before anybody noticed. And sure enough, it worked out. I had a strong lead most of the game, and thought for sure I had it in the bag. Imagine my panic when I realized that some of the really choice buildings had point values as high as 25!! I hadn't seen them very well, because they were on the opposite side of the table, so I didn't realize...I thought I was in big trouble, but I stuck to my strategy, and somehow, it paid off. I ended up winning, but it was very close.

Players: Joe, Frank, Russell
Winner: Russell
 
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9. Board Game: Polarity [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:2102]
Russell Grieshop
United States
Temple Terrace
Florida
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I really like this game. Another one I was eager to own, and bought as soon as it was re-released. It traveled with me extensively as I sought out players. I got this out Saturday when Michael and I were left by ourselves for a bit - waiting between people leaving and more people arriving. Michael was eager to try it out, and I wanted to play, as well. It was a very close game, probably made closer by Michael deciding to try for some tough moves rather than taking the easier ones.

Players: Michael, Russell
Winner: Michael (by one point)
 
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10. Board Game: Aladdin's Dragons [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:873]
Russell Grieshop
United States
Temple Terrace
Florida
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I have played this game in the past, when it was first released in the US, but it didn't click with me, for some reason. I've been at gaming events with Paul twice where he brought it out, and each time, I feel a twinge of "I should get this game, it's really good". This time was no different. As we finished up Polarity, Paul arrived and brought out his copy of this game. He thrashed Michael and I pretty thoroughly, and it was okay with me. Clearly, it helps a lot to know how to use all of the powers and spells!

Players: Paul, Michael, and Russell
Winner: Paul
 
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11. Board Game: Fearsome Floors [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:939]
Russell Grieshop
United States
Temple Terrace
Florida
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While we were wrapping up Aladdin's Dragon's, Tim and Gretchen arrived. Tim had heard about Finster Flure, and was eager to play. We were just getting started when David arrived, and right behind him, Beverly and Bill returned. Suddenly, we had eight players! I acted as the referee, rather than making someone else sit out, and the 7 player game was off and running! It seems like the last couple of games I've played, especially big games, someone will get two of their characters out while the monster is still going through his first set of tiles, and the same thing happened here. Not that it was a bad thing, mind you... David managed to get two of his "Fathers" out before the monster tiles were reshuffled.

Players: Michael, Tim, Gretchen, Bill, Paul, Beverly, and David
Winner: David
 
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12. Board Game: Saboteur [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:885] [Average Rating:6.61 Unranked]
Russell Grieshop
United States
Temple Terrace
Florida
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I picked this up right after BGG.con, and had never played it, but it looked like fun, and had what promised to be good "big group" dynamics. I enjoyed this game a lot - we finished one game, and lost some players, but immediately played a second game, anyway. I have played a lot of "Are You A Werewolf?" in my time, and really like the hidden roles dynamic. Our first game was an eight player game, and if I recall correctly, Paul, who'd been a Saboteur twice, won it.

Players: Michael, Tim, Gretchen, Bill, Paul, Beverly, David, and Russell
Winner: Paul

The second game was with fewer players, as Beverly, Bill, and David all had to leave, but it was still a lot of fun. I ended up with a Saboteur card, and realized pretty quickly that Michael was the other one. I did manage for a very short time to start to convince the other players that Gretchen was the saboteur, but they got wise to my ideas pretty quickly and turned it against Michael and I. But to no avail - it was already too late!

Players: Michael, Tim, Gretchen, Paul, and Russell
Winner: Russell
 
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13. Board Game: Tsuro [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:795]
Russell Grieshop
United States
Temple Terrace
Florida
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One more, and this one is definitely out of sequence, but this makes lucky 13!! I bought this game because my friend Josh pointed it out to me at Dragon*Con, and I'm pretty sure *he* told *me* that Shelly would like this. We played it last week and she did like it - even as a two player game. She felt like it wasn't as competitive, and was more mindful and meditative. She also felt like more players would make it more competitive. She ended up losing after almost all pieces were on the board and she boxed herself in (one move before I did).

Players: Shelly, Russell
Winner: Russell
 
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14. Board Game: BUX: the matchin' cash-in card game [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Les Lauber
United States
Osage City
Kansas
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Played with my workplace lunch-games group. They really liked the inflation and bidding mechanisms.
 
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15. Board Game: Dominoes [Average Rating:5.44 Overall Rank:15674]
Les Lauber
United States
Osage City
Kansas
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A family group plays a variant called "Chicken Foot Dominoes." We used double-nines.
 
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16. Board Game: Risk [Average Rating:5.58 Overall Rank:15362]
Les Lauber
United States
Osage City
Kansas
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My nephew is 10, and it's time for him to step up to the next level of games. He loved it.
 
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17. Board Game: Upwords [Average Rating:5.70 Overall Rank:5800]
Les Lauber
United States
Osage City
Kansas
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In his excellent book, "New Rules for Classic Games," Wayne Schmittberger suggests a solitaire version of SCRABBLE. I applied his suggestions to UPWORDS, and found that they apply just as well, here.
 
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18. Board Game: Chess [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:417] [Average Rating:7.09 Unranked]
Les Lauber
United States
Osage City
Kansas
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We didn't play this seriously, we just wanted to experiment with different middle-games the Double King Pawn Opening can create.
 
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