GCL Phoenix 89 - Is that SPIEL on the horizon? (16 Sep 2012)
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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You appear to have found the 89th installment of the Phoenix Geek Chat League. Welcome to our regular subscribers! If you've become a regular without my knowing about it, please feel free to thumb the list so that I know you're there.

If you're not a regular, and the notion of a Geek|Game Chat League seems strange or unfamiliar, please check out the wiki page.

As usual, members are encouraged to add an item to the list. And non-members are welcome to contribute (though please leave the item-adding to the regulars.) Our roster comprises:
BennyD
Bruzza
chally
Eeeville
Dormammu
enzo622
Hawkeye77
indigopotter
JohnRayJr
Judoka
leroy43
Lowengrin
Mr_Nuts
ravenskana
rynelf
Taibi <-- next week's correspondent.
tjshields
topherr
yokiboy


The theme for the week is SPIEL. Essen SPIEL 2012, in fact. As I check our respective BGG want lists, I see lots of upcoming games. So I thought to put together a GCL Spiel Leaderboard. My difficulty is that I have two distinctly different measures available to me. First: our Preorder/Wishlist/Want-to-Buy markup. If I pretend that "Preordered" is the moral equivalent of W1("Must Have"), and "Want to buy" the equivalent of W2("Love to have") I can calculate a Fairplay-like rating number by averaging those wants. That list (for games with two or more votes) looks like this:

(As of Sept16)
Rank: Avg. Want #votes - Game
1: 1.5 4 - Vanuatu: The Rising Waters
2: 1.7 3 - Seasons
3: 1.8 4 - Terra Mystica
4: 1.9 7 - Keyflower
5: 2.0 3 - Carson City: Gold & Guns
6: 2.0 2 - King of Tokyo: Power Up!
7: 2.3 3 - Ground Floor
8: 2.5 8 - The Great Zimbabwe
9: 2.5 2 - Western Town
10: 2.5 2 - Pax Porfiriana
11: 2.5 2 - Express 01
12: 2.5 2 - Road to Enlightenment
13: 2.5 2 - Briefcase
14: 2.7 3 - VivaJava: The Coffee Game
15: 2.7 3 - The Resistance: Avalon
16: 3.0 5 - Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts
17: 3.0 4 - Troyes: The Ladies of Troyes
18: 3.0 3 - Trains
19: 3.0 3 - Dominion: Dark Ages
20: 3.0 2 - Le Havre: The Inland Port
21: 3.0 2 - Fleet
22: 3.3 3 - CO₂
23: 3.3 3 - Clash of Cultures
24: 3.3 3 - Dixit 3: Journey
25: 3.5 2 - Saint Malo
26: 3.5 2 - Space Cadets
27: 3.7 3 - Suburbia
28: 3.8 4 - Dominare
29: 4.0 3 - Card City
30: 4.0 2 - Snowdonia
31: 4.0 2 - Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar
32: 4.0 2 - Madeira
33: 4.0 2 - Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island
34: 4.0 2 - Doctor Who: The Card Game
35: 4.0 2 - Polis: Fight for the Hegemony
36: 4.5 2 - Crude: The Oil Game

(As of Sept24)
Rank: Avg. Want #votes - Game
1: 1.0 3 - Seasons
2: 1.0 2 - Spellbound
3: 1.5 6 - Keyflower
4: 1.5 4 - Vanuatu: The Rising Waters
5: 1.8 4 - Terra Mystica
6: 2.0 4 - Carson City: Gold & Guns
7: 2.0 2 - King of Tokyo: Power Up!
8: 2.3 3 - Ground Floor
9: 2.5 8 - The Great Zimbabwe
10: 2.5 2 - Western Town
11: 2.5 2 - Pax Porfiriana
12: 2.5 2 - Express 01
13: 2.5 2 - Road to Enlightenment
14: 2.5 2 - Briefcase
15: 2.6 5 - Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts
16: 2.7 3 - VivaJava: The Coffee Game
17: 3.0 4 - Troyes: The Ladies of Troyes
18: 3.0 4 - The Resistance: Avalon
19: 3.0 3 - Trains
20: 3.0 3 - Dominion: Dark Ages
21: 3.0 2 - Le Havre: The Inland Port
22: 3.0 2 - Fleet
23: 3.2 4 - Clash of Cultures
24: 3.3 3 - CO₂
25: 3.3 3 - Dixit 3: Journey
26: 3.3 3 - Northwest Passage Adventure
27: 3.5 2 - Saint Malo
28: 3.5 2 - Trick of the Rails
29: 3.5 2 - Dungeon Lords: Festival Season
30: 3.7 3 - Suburbia
31: 3.8 4 - Dominare
32: 3.8 4 - Space Cadets
33: 4.0 3 - Card City
34: 4.0 2 - Snowdonia
35: 4.0 2 - Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar
36: 4.0 2 - Madeira
37: 4.0 2 - Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island
38: 4.0 2 - Doctor Who: The Card Game
39: 4.0 2 - Polis: Fight for the Hegemony
40: 4.5 2 - Crude: The Oil Game
41: 4.5 2 - 1984: Animal Farm
42: 4.5 2 - Tokaido


The other is to look at ratings that we've already left for games that will be released (or re-released) at SPIEL (again with a minimum of 2 votes.)
(As of Sept16)
Rank: Avg. Rating #votes - Game
1: 8.6 3 - Hanabi
2: 7.3 14 - Homesteaders
3: 7.1 4 - Seasons
4: 7.0 3 - Snowdonia
5: 7.0 2 - Die Siedler von Catan: Junior
6: 6.7 3 - Arctic Scavengers
7: 6.2 5 - Town Center
8: 6.1 3 - Sunrise City
9: 5.8 7 - Luna
10: 5.4 3 - River Dragons
11: 5.3 5 - Serenissima (first edition)
12: 5.0 4 - Belfort
13: 5.0 3 - Heimlich & Co.
14: 5.0 2 - Doctor Who: The Card Game
15: 4.8 3 - City Tycoon
16: 4.3 3 - Divided Republic

(As of Sept24)
Rank: Avg. Rating #votes - Game
1: 8.6 3 - Hanabi
2: 7.3 14 - Homesteaders
3: 7.1 4 - Seasons
4: 7.0 3 - Snowdonia
5: 7.0 2 - Die Siedler von Catan: Junior
6: 6.7 3 - Arctic Scavengers
7: 6.7 2 - 7 Wonders: Cities
8: 6.2 5 - Town Center
9: 6.1 3 - Sunrise City
10: 5.8 7 - Luna
11: 5.4 3 - River Dragons
12: 5.3 5 - Serenissima (first edition)
13: 5.0 4 - Belfort
14: 5.0 3 - Heimlich & Co.
15: 5.0 2 - Doctor Who: The Card Game
16: 4.8 3 - City Tycoon
17: 4.3 3 - Divided Republic

Seasons is looking pretty good on both lists. Keyflower and The Great Zimbabwe have a lot of votes. But I'm interested in your subjective view! Might you consider making your list entry either the game you're most looking forward to at SPIEL or an as-yet hidden gem you've unearthed that will be revealed at SPIEL?
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1. Board Game: Essen-Quiz [Average Rating:1.00 Unranked]
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
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If you're planning to go to SPIEL, what's your plan? Whose booths are you planning to hit? What areas will miss your scrutiny?

If you're not going to SPIEL - what's your plan to keep up with the festivities? Is there a blog you always look for? A BGG.user whose SPIEL account you always try to follow? Perhaps you'll keep up with the Geek video offerings? Or maybe there's something else! What's your plan?
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2. Board Game: Inca Empire: Bonus Sun Event Cards [Average Rating:6.98 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.98 Unranked]
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
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What SPIEL-only (historic) release do you most regret missing? Is there something that came out some years ago that you've never seen on the secondary market for any reasonable price?

Or if there's nothing that hits that category - was there some historic SPIEL event, activity, or display you would have liked to have seen (or otherwise participated in?)
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3. Board Game: Suburbia: Essen SPIEL Expansion [Average Rating:6.69 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.69 Unranked]
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
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Is there perhaps some little bonus item that's expected to appear this SPIEL that you're particularly intending (if you're attending) to pick up; or if you're not planning to attend, is there some handout you'd really like to get your hands on?
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4. Board Game: 18NEB [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:3712]
Jon
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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Games Played:

_8_ Plato 3000 x1
One real game but before that played a round with one boy then another round with both boys to get a feel for the rules. In the one actual game, my youngest son won 100 to 81. I quite like the art and quick play of this, even though I know nothing about rummy and when I hear that word look to see if Captain Morgan has entered the room.


_6_ 18NEB x1
Steven taught this to Amos, Dane, and myself, and even though we allocated an entire afternoon for it, the game took over 6 hours and went longer than even we thought it would. In the end Dane won with 6274, while Steven had 4751, Amos 4189 and I survived with 3278. I almost went backrupt when I screwed up and allowed a dumped company to be passed on to me, and trying to keep myself afloat kept me out of contention in the game.

Overall it was a good learning experience and Dane and Amos, both new to 18xx, looked to have enjoyed the game. The quirks in 18NEB were ok as far as I could tell but the overall experience wasn't so great I flt I needed to pick this particular title up for myself. In that sense, I'd rate this the same as my earlier play of 18MEX.

A very enjoyable game for me and I was happy to devote a day to this although now my poor little mind needs a rest.

This was also the start of what I'm calling the secret saturdays, basically hosting gaming days at my house from time to time, trying to get harder to get played games played.

_8_ Caylus x1
My boys and I finally got my copy of Caylus opened that I received at Gencon. We were all a bit shaky with the rules, as my oldest son and i only played it once a year ago and my youngest son has played a little of the iOS version, and we had Caylus Magna Carta in our heads. Still we got through the game, with my oldest son at 49, my youngest at 75, and myself at 98. I managed to get one prestige building built at the last move and neither boy had any which is the main reason I pulled so far ahead.
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5. Board Game: The Great Zimbabwe [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:332]
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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(Using The Great Zimbabwe as list item because that's the SPIEL release I'm most looking forward to!)

Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 15Sep2012:

4/8/282 plays of 4/7/144 total games, with 3/7/26 expansions employed.
Plays with 11/13/95 distinct opponents.

3/3/24 games acquired (plus 2/2/16 expansions: Power Grid: Québec/Baden-Württemberg and Steam: Map Expansion #2; I list the games below!)

With the I've been Diced! guys:
1x _8.5_ Brass: Lancashire - Lovely to get a live play of this one. I find the "real" map a lot easier to parse - for some reason I've not quite come to understand - than the online version. While I'm still nowhere near GCL-class, I think I'm no longer quite so convinced I'd come last (Third is a possibility!) were we ever to play live.

With the no-longer-on-Fridays gang:
1x _7_ Shark New! - I'd been told - many years ago - that this was "vaguely like Acquire." After playing it, I'm not completely convinced: Rheinländer and Stephenson's Rocket are both much closer. It's modestly random, but permits some rather lovely financial shenanigans. Family-weight (rather than gamer-weight) I think; but still worth the occasional play.

With lovely wife, daughter #1 and another family:
1x _7.3_ Telestrations New! - We played the "points are made up and the results don't matter" version - much like the ancestral EPYC, but with the commercial bits. Much hilarity was had by all. Best of all, I wasn't the one that had suggested this one!

With son #2:
1x _10_ Race for the Galaxy (plus three expansions) - Unfortunately, we weren't quite playing the same game. He was playing "Epic Build of the Galaxy" rather than Race; and ended up decidedly behind the speed curve. We talked about the results, and I think he understands that the plan isn't to build the "coolest" tableau, but instead the most valuable one. Hopefully, the next time out will be closer!


Owned-and-unplayed: 20 (+3/-1) (Telestrations, Dominant Species: The Card Game, and 1989: Dawn of Freedom are the new additions; but only the first one got to the table this week.)

Outlook for the week: Abject chaos. I'm singing (Barbershop-Bass) in a talent show this week, then heading to the airport for the red-eye to Troy NY so that son #1 can check out RPI on Saturday. Then flying home Sunday. If I get two plays in, I'll be lucky.
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6. Board Game: CO₂ [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:562]
Lo
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Canada
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British Columbia
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Games Played
1989: Dawn of Freedom x1
Ascension: Storm of Souls x1

Expansions Used
Ascension: Return of the Fallen x1

Representative Game
I probably won't start getting the real Essen itch until October, so my choice right now is tentative. For now, I'm most looking forward to CO₂. Vital Lacerda's other game (Vinhos) was on top of my wish list in 2010. I still think it's a great game. People complain of its complexity, but it's not so complex as just packed with lots of simple rules. Lots of rules to explain just a few too many mini-games.

Anyway, we'll see if Vital Lacerda has matured as a designer and if CO₂ can be as good of an economic game with maybe a bit more elegance.

The Week in Review
One game of Ascension: Storm of Souls with S on Monday and one game of 1989: Dawn of Freedom with P on Friday. Distractions abound!

The Week Ahead
I'll be lucky to play anything of any substance this week. Maybe, though, I'll get around to picking up a copy of Innovation.
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7. Board Game: The Great Zimbabwe [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:332]
"L'état, c'est moi."
Canada
Vancouver
BC
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This is the week that was:
Power Grid 2
Dixit 1
Glen More 1
London 1
TransAmerica 1

It was actually a decent week for live gaming. My wife learned Power Grid, and she really enjoyed it! She said she wasn't wild about the graphics, but the game play was right up her alley. We played a learning game on the Germany map with a robot along for the ride. I've played with the robot before, and didn't care much for it, but for two players it's really awesome because although the robot never really has a chance to win, especially if the players do their best to hose the 'bot, the robot does enough to get into the way of players to make it interesting. The robot also opens up one more map area.

The second game was the next day with my friend Jonathan along and we played the Quebec map from the Power Grid: Québec/Baden-Württemberg map. That one was also with a robot simply because Jonathan had never played with the 'bots, and again, the bot helped get in our way in a good way. I won by $4 with Jonathan and I both powering 18 cities at game end.

Friday at the pub is back on because my daughter is back in art school for the fall term. Her claymation class was cancelled as she was the only one who had registered (I thought they should have run it and she would have learned a million things), but they allowed her to transfer into an ostensibly full class with the instructor's permission. The teacher there has seen a lot of our daughter so she's suggested to her that she spends the time they work in their sketchbooks to do some storyboarding for spring when we hope there's another class (and if not, spring and summer break are coming). My wife and I enjoyed some beer while playing Glen More and Transamerica.

In the world of wargaming, I've got four games of Unhappy King Charles, one 1989 game, one game of Here I Stand, still three of Virgin Queen, and there's a fierce battle in the game of Le Vol de l'Aigle I'm in.

Spoiler alert for Le Vol de L'Aigle - if you're in my game, don't read this!

Spoiler (click to reveal)
my cavalry (I'm playing Kellermann) is fighting and winning in a fierce battle, but Mouton's infantry has just arrived on the scene to relieve me.


Spiel
I've not played any Splotter titles. I've always been intrigued by them, however. Of the various items coming up at Spiel, that's the only one I've had a lingering interest in.
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8. Board Game: 18NEB [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:3712]
Christopher Rao
United States
Seattle
WA
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Q:When I say "lawyer" what pops into your head? A:Someone who designs games about penguins." - Dormammu
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Good week for gaming, crappy week for CGF stuff, and stressful week at work.

The Castles of Burgundy x1 (NEW to me)
18Ardennes x1
Quills x2
1830: Railways & Robber Barons x1
Some filler game whose name I don't remember x3
18NEB x1

So Castles of Burgundy is just the kind of euro I've tired on - a veneer of reasonably clever reasonably novel new mechanics over a VP efficiency engine - but I unexpectedly liked it. One theme I picked up from CurtC many moons ago is games hitting (and often missing) their sweet spot. CoB is not really strategically interesting to me, but there's plenty of candy to distract along the way. I like the way the dice and workers go together, I like how there's always plenty to think about, and I like how it seems to last about as long as it needs to, but not longer. This is why I prefer it (at least after one play of each) to Village. Village is a deeper game, probably, but the math is ubiquitous as it is uninteresting to me (with the exception of the cool folks dying and giving you points mechanic - by far the best part of the game). In any case, I'll likely never love CoB, but I'd be happy to play it from time to time - a definite 6.

We then played 5-player 18Ardennes - the best play of Ardennes we've had in our group. In 3-player, it's just too easy to set up killer combinations of routes and companies. In 5-player, with aggressive players used to 1830, it's far more interesting as the little companies constantly mess with each other. I really love the first half of Ardennes, and the dichotomy of how much I hate the second half compared to the first may be the most extreme example of this I've seen in any game. The route calculation in the last half of the game is just silly, and the rules for switching to a 10-share company seem distracting without adding much. The odd blessing of Ardennes is that because it's a very gentle game (no train rush to speak of), it has a serious runaway leader problem - and this means we usually just quit about 2/3 of the way through the game, when it is patently obvious that my buddy Stephen has already won

QUILLS is my new filler of choice. An entire game takes 10-15 minutes - and because the first player to choose a word sets the timer, Quills is always as fast as the faster player of the table! I totally suck at the game, and it continues to give me fits that I, the sole liberal arts major among my group, keeps getting creamed by a rotating bevy of programmers. Hmmph.

Speaking of fillers, while we were waiting for Stephen to show on Saturday for XX, my buddy Anupam and I played this clever little "connect 5" game, where you alternate placing white and black tokens on an 8 x 8 grid. The cool part of the game is that the grid is split into quadrants, and these quandrants rotate, and after each move you are required to rotate one of the quadrants. I can't wait to play it with my 8-year old....

1830 was just painful. I made an obvious mistake early, which should have caused my bankruptcy, but didn't (b/c I got bailed out by players who couldn't win if I went bankrupt), then slowly struggled to get a reasonable position where I was the only player (of 4) to own 3 companies, then horribly misjudged the train rush and went bankrupt after all. It felt somehow karmic. Stephen won, as usual, but Jose got 2nd.

18Neb was great fun, not least because I didn't stink up the joint. It was one of the very few times I've ever seen Stephen mis-time the train rush. This led to my being in a very strong, position, and I ended up finishing a close 2nd ($80 or so) to my buddy (and brother-in-law) Jose. Stephen and Anupam, who usually just clobber Jose and I, came in 3rd and 4th.

I'd be curious, Jon, why Neb didn't do it for you. I can see it taking 6 hours on a first play, but after a few plays it shouldn't take more than 3, maybe 3.5. I still don't love it as much as 1848 or my all-time favorite, 1830, but it's a very tight, interesting design with a lot of sensible rules that add to game play (auction mechanic, towns turning into cities, 4D, etc.). What's not to like, if you like XX?

===========
I've been thinking more and more about why I'm so nonplussed by Euros that some of my friends still really like, trying to distill my thoughts. Why is it, after all, that I went down the 18xx rabbit hole, only reappearing in Euro-and for short sojourns?

My working theory is that the ratio of efficiency to opportunity cost is far too high in most Euros to suit my taste, and much much lower in 18xx. In fact, a big reason I think I lost 50 or so XX games before I won a game was because I was playing the games like a Euro, focusing on small improvements to payouts and not seeing the train rush coming like a stampede.

Euros that I continue to enjoy are games that have devastating opportunity costs - where timing really matters - and henceforth games where it is fairly easy to get totally clobbered in a way that is rare in many other Euros: Puerto Rico and Imperial, to name two. Perhaps not coincidentally, my upcoming game, Wagon Trader is a game with really severe opportunity cost - and a game where a player can sometimes get lapped.

I'd be curious to know how other folks see this issue. Does the process of sifting through mechanics to squeeze an extra VP continue to jazz you? Maybe I'm just being too dismissive of games I used to play a lot, and perhaps too vague about what games I'm actually talking about. I dunno... it's late and I got work tomorrow...

Hope everyone had a great week!
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9. Board Game: Chicago Express [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:365]
Judit Szepessy
Canada
London
Canada
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Chicago Express x1
Carson City x1
Deterrence x1


Chicago Express continues to be a subtle game that is very intriguing. We were not very good at it as we had one player (in a three player game) managed to get to Chicago and with this his win was secured. I did not acquire a whole lot of shares, but still managed to keep up my cash level at a reasonable level, of course, I was not swimming in money. There is a lot to discover in this game,like when to auction and what shares, whether develop or build; especially given how rarely it gets played, unfortunately. I hope to put it on the table again this week, once or twice. I want to get better at this game. Easy rules, but what a tough game!

Carson City was a two player game, and we enjoy it at this player count too, of course, it is more exciting with more players. We still had duels and some interactive movements around our ranches, so there were heated moments in this two player game as well.

Deterrence: the mechanics of the game: Chit and pull and Secret Unit deployment. The game is a review copy. It takes place during the Cold War and you try to build stronger military and economy than your opponent. There is a strong deduction element in the game as you constantly have to make an educated guess as to what your opponent placed in his country both to protect his country and to launch a successful attack. The rules are easy and the gameplay is quite abstract.
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10. Board Game: King of Tokyo: Power Up! [Average Rating:7.66 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.66 Unranked]
Yoki Erdtman
Sweden
Södertälje
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Games Played: (Links to play details, with my ratings in color, and milestones noted in red italic.)

.10. Zombicide x10 >15 plays!

New Games in My Collection:
I received an expansion for Assassin: The Final Game. I didn't know the game even had an expansion, 30 new assassins, but the designer contacted me asking if I wanted it, and he kindly sent it to me. How can you beat that?

Week in Review:
Tons of zombie slaughter last week, and it is likely to continue this week. I am in love with Zombicide.

Representative Item:
King of Tokyo: Power Up! is certain to come home with me from SPIEL, so I chose this to be my entry this week, per Dave's request.

Plans for the Week:
More Zombicide, but hopefully we will also get our playtest package in the mail, so we can give it a go.

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11. Board Game: Space Cadets [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1212]
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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Glory to Rome x 1

This 2-player game sort of confirmed for me that I just don't like GtR as much as I wish I did (at least as a 2-player game).

Biblios x 5

I'm falling in love with this game more and more every session.

Innovation x 1


My favorite game. Brilliant.

Railways of the World: The Card Game x 2


New to us this week, both were 2-player games with my wife. The game is more interesting in motion than I expected from the simple ruleset. I've never played the boardgame that it is based on, but this felt a lot like Steam: The Card Game to me. You build cities and routes, restricted by the colors on the cards, and those cities are populated with goods cubes. Goods want to be shipped to a city with a matching color, and you can ship a distance of 1 link for each locomotive card you have in play. At game's end, each city scores points for whoever has the most valuable links connecting to it. It seems like it would be more dynamic with more players, but it plays pretty well with 2.

Trajan x 1

Taught Kat the game yesterday and she really liked it (as expected). It's a heartless FEEEEEELD point salad, and we both enjoy it quite a bit. I'm glad to say that we can finish a 2-player game in about 90 minutes, as I feared the playtime would be too long. We just finished up our second play this morning. Both games were very close: 121-116 and 116-114.



Plans for the week:

We're going to see Rush in concert tomorrow night. I'll be having friends from work over for game night on Wednesday. Starting next week, I've had to open up my availability at work so my Wednesday game nights may become a thing of the past. Until I quit my job.
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12. Board Game: Card City [Average Rating:6.11 Overall Rank:4850]
United States
Wurtsboro
NY
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I am looking at two games right now, Suburbia and Card City. Since Suburbia is already a bit more known, I went with Card City for my entry.

Last night we got back from our whirlwind weekend. We split time between my dad's house and gaming at Ryan's house.

Saturday was board game day, and we played for about nine hours. We got a lot of good stuff to the table.

 


First up, our hosts taught us Techno Witches. I had seen the box cover before, but really had no idea what it was. There is an obstacle course of circles (similar to the Ad Astra ones), and you have to get to a goal first. On your turn, you choose one of the oddly shaped bits, and put it on your spell book, like the image above. On your next turn, you can either place the path and fly, moving your witch, or choose another piece and place it on your spell book. Moving smaller amounts shows you where you'll end up, so you know what kind of piece you'll need next. Playing several pieces at once is more of a risk, because you'll be twisting and turning and could crash, but is more time-efficient.

I'm very spatially oriented and could visualize this pretty well in my head. Some players may find it more frustrating. I won the first game, but lost the second, as I was avoiding the piece I was supposed to be touching.




Next Ryan taught us Democrazy. It's a lot like Fluxx, but I could be talked into playing it again, unlike Fluxx. The similarities lie in adding cards with rules on them, like Yellow is worth 2, or male players get 5 bonus points. Unlike Fluxx, the players are voting on the laws, and they pass, or not. With two women and two men, the votes about men getting bonus points would often be tied. The cards themselves have a tie breaker indicator, sometimes yes, sometimes no. Also, there are super powered cards that you can play once that pass or veto a law you feel strongly about. There are also cards that let you take another turn, or an extra chip, if a law you propose is passed, so the strategy may extend beyond the law itself. An interesting enough filler with moderate interaction (some cards let you choose someone to take chips away from, so it could get very directly interactive). Ryan won this one.




Next I taught Cloud 9, which was vastly improved with 4 players. The components are really nice, and it's pretty easy to get up and go. We take turns flying the ship (rolling the dice) and if we have the colors indicated on the dice, we play them from our hand cards to move the balloon up to the next level. We also have the choice of playing a wild card. The passengers can choose to jump out for guaranteed points, or try to ride the balloon higher for more points. It's usually smart to hold back a wild card for certain moments, but in the end Sam was way out ahead, and we needed to catch up with him if we had any chance of winning, so we tossed in wild cards for the good of the team. However, it was not meant to be, and Sam sailed on to victory.




Then Sam and I taught Piece of Cake, which is on Ryan's wishlist, so I wanted to give him a chance to see it live (and I was happy to have a chance to play it 4p). It went over okay. It may work better a second time once people have seen it played through once, or it may be a game that we play with my dad (who seemed to get into it a bit more). I ended up winning, though I think Mrs. WG might win now that she saw some of the strategy.




Next Mrs. WG requested Burrows, which we had seen at our FLGS, and which looked simplistic, so I had never really paid it much attention. There is an interesting timing and scoring mechanism based on whether the tile you play has a bus on it, and the color that you will be scoring is based on a track that is mostly randomly determined, so you have to stay on your toes. It's a bit like musical chairs, where each color is one short, so if you're the one without a red gopher when the red gopher is being scored, you get the tile with the negative points (complaints) on it, ranging from 1 to 3.

The tiles have paths on them, and each turn you get to choose from three tiles and add one to your burrow. You want to make long tunnels with matching colors at the end (they don't all have to match, just the ones that will score). Looking ahead toward the next scoring token, if orange will score and you're the one without an orange token, that's your priority, to try to make a finished tunnel longer than the current shortest one, and take the gopher away. If you're sitting pretty with the necessary gopher(s), you might want to rush the bus and score. If you're sweating without a gopher, you might pick a less ideal tile without a bus, to try to stretch out time.

The tile laying is a large visual part, but relatively small mental part, of the gameplay and strategy. Mrs. WG won this one.




We had been playing a bunch of lighter and/or shorter games, and I asked if we were ready for a main course. I had brought Castles of Burgundy, thinking Mrs. WG might really like it, and it might be a good 2p game for them. Mrs. WG was schooling us, she could definitely see the matrix. We all had times when we were out ahead, and the end scores were only about 4 or 5 points between 1st and 2nd, and 2nd and 3rd. I had the board with the large backwards L in brown, but I concentrated on the smaller areas, completing a couple in each round, including the first one, while the bonus was still 10VP, giving me an early advantage. We were really fighting for first player, and I had it only briefly. Sam and Mrs. WG were right there to take it away from me. I had 4 bonus tiles for buildings, and I think 2 buildings of each type, so I had something like 32 VP at the end, allowing me to nudge out just enough ahead. With one less of those bonus tiles, I might have tied for first or been second. It could have gone differently very easily.

Ryan found the theme a little lacking, a bit dry. I had hoped the dice rolling and choosing from the shared board would have wooed him, but I guess not enough. It's nice to get to try things out, rather than always have to buy everything, as Sam and I used to have to do.




By now it was getting late, and we were waiting for some pizza to be delivered, so we wanted something a bit shorter and lighter. We went with King of Tokyo, and as we had all played before, we just needed a brief refresher. I got a lot of energy early, and was able to buy a card that gave me an extra die, and then I got a card that allowed me an extra reroll, giving me a solid advantage. I was up to 17/20 VP, and I thought I might win, until Ryan played a card that dealt everyone 3 damage, putting me down to 1 health, and allowing Sam to kill me before I had another turn and could heal myself. cry


On Sunday Ryan, Sam, and some other guys played Castles and Crusades, while the womenfolk wandered around a used bookstore, did some scrapbooking, and did other relaxing things. They're going to get together about every 6 weeks for their campaign. I am going to paint Ryan and Sam's minis, and the other players might be jealous enough to hire me, so that would be cool. Sam also dug out a bunch of metal minis and accessories once we got home, so the dining room table is filled with things to paint.

We had a really great weekend, and I am already looking forward to the next one.



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13. Board Game: Copycat [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:1209]
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
Ebeltoft
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Games Played Week 37:
None

Game of Choice:
In a year where Spiel seems to mean much less to me than previously I have had a hard time picking a game that stands out. I have never played (as far as I know) any Friedemann Friese games. This one mixes a lot of mechanics from many of the Top 10 games on the Geek. It might flop or it might top, but the premise has me just a little bit curious.

The Week in Review:
I got to spend a few days at home with my wife. We had a wonderful time just being together, chatting, going to the movies, re-modelling out living room and just having some good times.

Life is what you make of it and I am determined to make something awesome out of mine.
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14. Board Game: Le Havre [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:39]
Железный комиссар
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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Light week; very busy with life-outside-of-gaming (in a good way).

Just the iOS Le Havre game this week, which was a rare treat.
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15. Board Game: Terra Mystica [Average Rating:8.23 Overall Rank:8]
Daniel Kenel
United States
New London
Iowa
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Games Played
None soblue

Week in Review
A rough week on multiple fronts that resulted in no time for gaming. The only gaming related activity I did have was reading the rules to God's Playground and getting in on a group order for Terra Mystica.
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16. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts [Average Rating:7.52 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.52 Unranked]
Max Maloney
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Games Played

.10! Hanabi 2
_9_ Puerto Rico 1
_9_ Magic: The Gathering 17
_8_ Modern Art 1
_8_ Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space 1
_8_ Dixit 1
_8_ Pandemic 2
_7_ Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game 1
_7_ Power Grid 1
_6_ Netrunner 1
_6_ Nightfall 1
_6_ Plato 3000 3 New!

Week in Review

A lot of standard favorites for me this week.

Pandemic has seen a return to recent play after teaching a friend last week: 4 plays over the last 10 days or so. I think I'd like to get it played several more times as I want to play more with the Virulent Strains which I've never bothered to explore.

On Sunday, I went to the biweekly boardgaming day but arrived about 30 minutes late and everyone was in a game. I ended up hanging around for a while and got into a game of Battlestar Galactica. We had no cylons in the first half and I turned traitor in the sleeper phase. We had two pilots and Helo and after several events were lost due to red cards, those players were immediately under suspicion. When the Admiral moved to brig Helo and Helo couldn't vote against it because he had no red cards in hand, he left little doubt of his guilt. He revealed on his next turn. I waited a little too long to reveal and we lost by a narrow margin (humans had 1 fuel and 2 morale).

BSG is always good fun, though I think some of the thrill has been lost for me. I don't at all dislike it, but on its fourth play it dropped from an 8 to a 7 and I expect it to stay there.

Power Grid hit the table for the 3rd time in the last few weeks, mostly off the interest generated by the first of those three plays. That was the game I played on the Russia map that made me realize the variant maps are more fun than I'd have expected. I'd like to try China especially, because of Aliza's recommendation.

Netrunner was, of course, the new FFG printing. I raised my rating from 5 to 6 on this play. It didn't blow me away but I still have renewed enthusiasm. The bluff and guess of this game still seems to be more interesting for the Corp and the pacing still feels a little flat. I've never seen a game of Netrunner that seemed exciting. But I'm hoping to get some repeated plays going. I'd like to play at least 5-10 more times to give it a thorough shakedown, which I've never done with the old or new versions.

Nightfall was a request from a friend who was interested but wanted to try before buying. It was a 5-player game and I think the game is overlong at that player count, but it was good fun. I can't come to grips with this game. I really like the design and sometimes it's tremendous fun, but it has this odd samey quality that seems to kill it when I play it a few times in a short timeframe. I don't know what to think of it.

Plato 3000 was a neat little game. Half the people I taught liked it; the other half were thoroughly disinterested by it. It's now living in my "short card games" container that is in my car at all times.
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17. Board Game: Troyes: The Ladies of Troyes [Average Rating:7.95 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.95 Unranked]
Mark Johnson
Canada
St.John's
Newfoundland
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Ascension + Expansions (76) - 15 Immortal Heroes
Seasons (14)
GOSU (2)
Dominant Species (1)
Ora et Labora (1)

---

Two weeks of plays rather than updating the last list

More Ascension. I've played Immortal Heroes and have thus far been underwhelmed. I say this because I don't like the new Soul Gem mechanism. Some cards that grant Soul Gems seem too good (ie Soulshaper) and then others seem fine (Askara of Souls). None seem bad for their cost but it is a bit of risk/reward. So, it's not so much the randomness that bothers me despite being pretty damn random. I think what bothers me the most is that even if the cards seemed properly costed and even if it wasn't crazy random, it's boring. How can I be excited about using all of these heroes that I've literally used thousands of times before? There is some excitement of the wonder of what you'll draw but it just bores me after I see what I get. They should have made something different for the soul gem deck. I will say that I do like the new events. I also really love the event placeholders which make events come up more with bigger center decks. The non-Soul Gem cards are pretty neat as well. I wonder if I should go back to a highlander cube with no Soul Gem cards, stick it out a bit more, or come up with a house rule for the soul gems (I do have some ideas rattling around). I think with all of the games of Seasons I've benn playing lately, Ascension has been feeling a little tired.

Seasons is great. My copy of this should show up on Tuesday of next week. I'm pretty excited to play this again. I haven't the game since my computer troubles on the 11th because I can't browse on my computer. I could play though my iPad but it seems more laggy that way. So, I've just put playing it on hold.

I had a few more games of Gosu with Michael a few weeks ago. One of which was a real nail biter. I realty thought he wad going to deliver my first loss. I did eventually puzzle out how to win, however. I really feel like Jesse never gave this one enough of a try and would be right up his alley. Its probably due to the fact that he didn't play with the optimal number of players and maybe not with the tournament rules. I think this is also the same readon he didnt get much enjoyment of Seasons. Weird, considering he normally tries to play games at their optimal player count. Oh well, there are lots of good games to play out there.

I played the 3rd edition/printing of Dominant Species. Surprisingly, we actually managed to finish a game. It's a first for me. We had a 4 player game and we used Jesse's variant: "Remove Intelligence, Parasitism, Omnivore, Immigrants, Blight. Give everyone an extra action token, and remove 5 of each of the elements from the bag." our game ran about 4 and a half hours. I don't think the extra action pawns were necessary and probably caused the game to go on longer than it should have. Part of me wants to give the game another try but I think it's going back to the auction pile again =[

Had a fantastic game of Ora et Labora. I came in second place which is atypical of me and managed to break 200 points which I've only done one other time. It was plays like this that really highlights why people should only keep games in their collect that are providing those magical games of pure joy. It's still important to try new games as you need to find new gems from time-to-time but I really need to cut the chafe.

---

In Other News...

I have actually finished the alpha build of a card game that I've previously mentioned that's been bouncing around in my head. I hope to print off some prototype cards soon and give it a try. I feel if I had to describe the game it would be more deterministic Summoner Wars meets capture the flag. Sort of. I'll comment more when I actually get it played.

My computer is still wonky. It's pretty much killing my normal way of life. I'm not ready to bring it somewhere to be 'fixed' yet though. It usually only blue screens when I do something that connects to the Internet. Like web browsing and opening iTunes also crashed it. Music, videos, image editing has all been fine. I'm guessing steam games won't work due to having to connect to the web, but I'm still troubleshooting and I'll still try some of the programs Yoki mentioned to me when I get the chance.

I said I wasn't going to get Netrunner due to my dislike of physical ccg/lcg's but sadly I couldn't control myself. I think it was a mistake but the Core Sets are on their way to me with Seasons. Of course I couldn't just get one but instead bought 3. I should have only bought 1 to try it but I do feel 3 is a better number than 2. I say this because you sell all the excess at the cost of one Core Set and end up with a play set for the cost of 2 Core Sets. I think most would consider it worth it because you are gaining 3 copies of all 2 copy cards but losing only a few of the 1 copy cards. There are quite a few more two copy cards than 1 copy. I did this with LoTR LCG and it worked out well.

Doing this on iPad makes me sad despite how much I love my iPad.
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18. Board Game: The Great Zimbabwe [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:332]
Tom Shields
United States
Tacoma
Washington
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Andean Abyss x2

Work has been psycho, including through the weekends, so between that & the running/workout every night I've been up for a book and a nightcap at day's end, and managed a couple plays of AA solo by leaving it on the table for sessions and I'm loving it.

I'll have to miss gaming this weekend again. I'm still hoping for a trip down the Oregon coast at first opportunity and I can't wait to be in Iowa soon.

Slotter's release The Great Zimbabwe will be most interesting, although I've not been following the Spiel releases closely and will likely be following rather than leading the pack this year. I will be curious to see what Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts brings.
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